Kurdistan Jews

From ancient times, precisely after the destruction of the first Holy House and the transfer of Jews to Mesopotamia in Iraq, they learned the Aramaic language, which was then the language of the Levant and Babylon. The Aramaic became their language for reading and writing and entered into their prayers as "Qadish" in the sense of glorifying God Almighty and the Talmud was written in this language. To this day, Jews are still studying the Talmud in the Aramaic language. However, the Kurdish Jews, especially the elderly among them, still speak this language in their homes because it is their mother tongue.


The dialects of Kurdish Jews differ from one region to another until they sometimes lead to a lack of understanding of the dialect among the inhabitants of different regions. For example, Lake Urmia residents do not fully understand the dialect of Mosul and vice versa. On the other hand, we find in some places, around the city of Mosul, that the Jews and Christians spoke the Aramaic language, each according to their dialect, but they understood each other’s dialects as much as possible and spoke together.


The old period


According to the history of the Kurdish Jews, the first Jews arrived in the Kurdistan region after the Assyrian conquest of the Kingdom of Israel during the eighth century BC, after which they were transferred to the Assyrian capital, Nineveh.During the first century B.C., the Hazelite king and his people converted to Judaism, and the queen, who was called Helen, and her son, Mambaz, built their palaces in Jerusalem.This kingdom was also called the people of Adiyabeen or Hudiab, and they were an ancient people that settled in Mesopotamia, which used to include the land located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, including lands now located in Syria, Turkey and Iraq.The Hazoids established a kingdom and took the city of Erbil as their capital. It was stated in the Mishnah that the king Mambaz made gold handles for pots that the priests used to fast on the Day of Atonement in the Great Temple (Mishnah Ghofran or "Kevorim" 3:10). Queen Helen also made gold chandeliers and placed them at the entrance to the temple, and a golden plaque with sections of the Holy Torah written on it (No. 5: 19-22).


"The Trips of Benjamin"

Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tkadila in Andalusia, who lived in the second half of the twelfth century CE, mentioned in his famous book "The Travels of Benjamin" that in Kurdistan there were about a hundred Jewish settlements and the Jewish population was large and spoke the Aramaic language and had their own dialect. After Benjamin headed south to the Babil region, and to Mosul in particular, he said:


There are about seven thousand Jews in this area led by a rabbi of the Davidic dynasty, peace be upon him, who is their president. There are in the area of Assyria [many Jewish temples named after the prophets, peace be upon them, who lived in this region such as the synagogue of the Prophet Obadiah, the synagogue of the Prophet Jonah (Yunus) and the synagogue of the Prophet Nahum.


He described the ancient Nineveh ruins. He stated that there is only one bridge connecting the Assyria region with the Nineveh region. He also described the city of Carchemish, as well as the city of Anbar on the Euphrates, which was called "Feras Shapur" in the period of the Sassanid Persian Kingdom (which is close to Fallujah).Travelers mentioned that the old and famous university that was founded in the third century in "Foam Baditha" and bears its name is still present and around three thousand Jews live around it. The traveler Benjamin disagrees with the researchers today, and it is believed that the city of Foam Baditha is the city of Anbar.


The Crusader period


In the twelfth century AD, after the Crusader invasion of the Holy Places and the Levant, the Jews left their regions and moved to the regions of Kurdistan and Iraq, where their Jewish brothers were blessed with prosperity and wealth where they enjoyed a commercial and concentrated spirit.Many Jews were very afraid of the Crusaders approach, many of whom fled from Syria and the Holy Land to Kurdistan, Babylon. The Jews of Mosul and Kurdistan enjoyed semi-autonomy during the Islamic period that represented independence by managing their sectarian and religious affairs.


The Ottoman period

The religious counselor Asanat El Barzanya was born in 1590 CE and lived in Mosul (in Iraqi Kurdistan) until 1670 CE. The daughter of Rabbi Samuel Barzani was in Kurdistan and later married Rabbi Yaqoub Mizrahi, who was the head of a Jewish religious school in Amadiyah and was a professor there. The Asanat El Barzanya years were famous for knowing the laws of the Torah and the Talmud and after the death of her husband early she became the head of the religious school in Amadiyah and a great professor in it because she was one of the largest scholars who know the laws of the Torah in Kurdistan.And this professor was nicknamed "Assnat Al Tanaya", which means the researcher and the researcher like scholars during the period of the Mishnah and Talmud (around the first century to the third century AD). She was a poet who arranged poems in the Hebrew language, which she was good at, and wrote a long, painful poem with weights in Arabic poetry. She was one of the first women to write their poems in Hebrew.


Among the important Jewish archaeological sites in Kurdistan are the graves of the prophets, peace be upon them, whose names are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, such as the Prophet Nahum in the city of Alqosh in northern Iraq,the Prophet Jonah (Yunus) in the ancient city of Nineveh, and the Prophet Daniel in Kirkuk.