47: By the Rivers of Babylon
A century ago, close to one-third of Baghdad's population was Jewish. Today, just five Jews remain in the city. In today's episode, we explore the story of the Jews of Iraq, all the way from Nahum the prophet to a Jerusalemite grandma who became the unlikely champion of kidnapped Yazidi girls.
Jews first arrived in what is today Iraq in the 6th century BC, after the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar sacked Solomon's Temple. It was from there that Ezra and Nehemiah led returning exiles back to Jerusalem. It was there that the Babylonian Talmud was debated, compiled and codified. And it was there, in 1941, that the Farhud - a violent pogrom - left hundreds of Baghdad's Jews dead and thousands injured.
While there were many different phases in this 2600-year-long history, Jews knew numerous prosperous periods in the 'land between the two rivers.' There were Jewish politicians, jurists, doctors, businessmen. There was even a Jewish Miss Baghdad.
Today that community is all but gone.
Ari Jacob wrote the original music in “You Cannot Clap With One Hand.” Joel Shupack arranged the music for the rest of the episode, and for parts of Act I, with music from Blue Dot Sessions. Shai Satran and Mishy Harman edited the episode, and Sela Waisblum mixed it all up. It was recorded in Jonathan Friedlander's 'Quality Sound Studio' in Jerusalem. The end song is a new cover version we commissioned of Boney M.'s "Rivers of Babylon.” It was recorded, arranged and performed by Shay Perry.