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Virtual Jewish CookBook - Kahi

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Published on Apr 14, 2019

The Nazi-inspired Pogrom That Triggered Iraqi Jews' Escape to Israel

Farhud is an Arabic term best translated as “pogrom” or “violent dispossession”

From the glossary; Pogrom: Russian word meaning “to wreak havoc, to demolish violently.” Historically, the term refers to violent attacks, usually planned, by local non-Jewish populations on Jews.

.The most traumatic event in the collective memory of Iraqi Jews — the Farhud — took place during the Shavuot holiday in 1941. During these violent riots in Baghdad thousands were raped and wounded, Jewish shops and synagogues were plundered and destroyed, and a staggering 180 people were brutally murdered. From the newly born to the elderly, no Jew was safe. The rioters used all manner of weapons, including running people over with their vehicles. Some Jews were rescued by Muslim neighbors who refused to join the mob. These Muslim resistors hid Jews, at great risk to their own safety. The massacre only ceased when the British entered the city and stopped it. Sadly, the British knew about the pogrom a day prior, but made no attempt to prevent it. Just like the local authorities, they preferred to let the masses take their rage out upon the Jews. This unprecedented attack on the theretofore flourishing, peaceful Jewish community of Baghdad is generally thought of as triggering Iraqi Jewry’s Aliyah to Israel.

Seldom do we ask how such a pogrom could have occurred in a place where Jews had lived quietly for centuries, in a country that had not, up until that moment, been known for anti-Semitism.

A closer look at the historical background of the Farhud reveals a complicated web of factors that led to the pogroms — the opposing interests of the Iraqi government and the British Empire; Nazi Germany’s underlying influence; varying Arab movements; and internal struggles between groups of Iraqi intellectuals. The unfortunate Jews were caught in the middle of this growing conflict.

In the 1940s about 135,000 Jews lived in Iraq (nearly 3 percent of the total population), with about 90,000 in Baghdad, 10,000 in Basra, and the remainder scattered throughout many small towns and villages. Jewish communities had existed in this region since the 6th century BCE, hundreds of years before Muslim communities established a presence in Iraq during the 7th century. The Jews shared the Arab culture with their Muslim and Christian neighbors, but they lived in separate communities. Jewish assimilation into Muslim society was rare.
Iraq became independent from Britain in 1932, Jews were citizens of Iraq. There were voices, however, that spoke out against their integration. At the same time, the world was experiencing profound changes. Fascist leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini were on the rise in Europe and had significant supporters among the Iraqi elite. The nationalists insisted that Iraq establish close ties with Germany rather than be exploited by Britain. Anti-british nationalists politicians who spread their hateful propaganda had triggered the british mandate to flee from Iraq. The rise of this pro-German government led by those anti-british politicians was also a threat to the Jews in Iraq. Nazi influence and antisemitism already were widespread in Iraq, due in large part to the German legation's presence in Baghdad as well as influential Nazi propaganda, which took the form of Arabic-language radio broadcasts from Berlin. The nazi ideology and writings were translated to arabic and published in newspapers and radio. For an instance “Mein Kampf” had been translated into Arabic by Yunis al-Sab'awi, and ended up being published in a local newspaper.

The Farhud triggered the mass Jewish emigration from Iraq. Ten years later, as part of Operations Ezra and Nehemiah (1950-1952), over 120,000 Jews — 90% of Iraqi’s Jewry — chose to leave Iraq for the young state of Israel.


The plane of operations Ezra and Nehemiah

In this video we'll teach you how to make “Kahi”.
“Kahi” is a traditional dish that Iraqi Jews used to make every morning of the day after Shavuot. Shavuot is one of the ‘Shalosh Regalim’, the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals. The pogrom occurred during Shavuot holiday, 1941.
Although Kahi is a traditional Iraqi Jew dish, nowadays it is the most popular breakfast amongst the citizens of Iraq. Kahi is served every morning in restaurants all over Baghdad.

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