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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

November 20, 2015  RSS feed
Culture

Text: T T T

Historic Jewish Iraqi items on display in Miami Beach


Torah Scroll Fragment (Genesis 11:19-16:12), Baghdad, 19th- 20th centuries.. Though no complete Torah scrolls were found, 43 Torah scroll fragments were recovered from the Mukhabarat basement. Torah Scroll Fragment (Genesis 11:19-16:12), Baghdad, 19th- 20th centuries.. Though no complete Torah scrolls were found, 43 Torah scroll fragments were recovered from the Mukhabarat basement. On May 6, 2003, just days after the coalition forces went into Baghdad, American soldiers entered Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence building. In the basement, lying underneath 4 feet of water, they found thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq – materials that had belonged to the synagogues and Jewish organizations in Baghdad.

Given the limited treatment options available locally, and with the agreement of Iraqi representatives, the materials were shipped to the United States for preservation and exhibition. Since then, these items have been vacuum freeze-dried, preserved and digitized under the direction of the National Archives.

The Jewish Museum of Florida - Florida International University (JMOF-FIU), located on South Beach, will present some of these artifacts in a new exhibit, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.”


Passover Haggadah from Vienna, 1930. This colorfully illustrated French and Hebrew Haggadah was published in Vienna. Caption on image: “Eating Matzah.” Passover Haggadah from Vienna, 1930. This colorfully illustrated French and Hebrew Haggadah was published in Vienna. Caption on image: “Eating Matzah.” The exhibition, which opens Dec. 3 and runs through Feb. 14, details the recovery of these historic items and the National Archives’ ongoing work in support of the U.S. government’s efforts to preserve these objects.

The 2,000-square-foot exhibition features 23 recovered items.

In addition, a “behind the scenes” video shows the painstaking preservation process for the entire collection of more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English, dating from 1524 to the 1970s.

Highlights from the exhibition include:

• A Hebrew Bible with commentaries from 1568 – one of the oldest books in the trove; a Babylonian Talmud from 1793.

• An official 1917 letter to the chief rabbi regarding a request to allow Jewish prisoners to attend Rosh Hashanah services.

• Materials from Jewish schools in Baghdad including exam grades and a letter to the College Entrance Examination Board in Princeton, NJ, regarding SAT scores.

• A Haggadah, from 1902, hand lettered and decorated by an Iraqi Jewish youth.

• A lunar calendar in both Hebrew and Arabic from the Jewish year 5732 (1971-1972) one of the last examples of Hebrew printed items produced in Baghdad.

The Jews of Iraq have a rich past, extending back 2500 years to Babylonia. These found objects provide a tangible link to the community that had once flourished there, but in the second half of the 20th century now live dispersed throughout the world. Today, fewer than five Jews remain in Iraq.

To see some of the rescued objects online, visit www.ija.archives.gov.

Admission is $16 for adults, $5 for seniors and students. Members arefree.(For a 2 for 1 admission offer, see ad in this edition of the Jewish Press) For more information, call (786) 972-3175.


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