Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
April 4, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 14     (14 of 36 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 14     (14 of 36 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
April 4, 2003

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2020. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

PAGE 14 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 4, 2003 view war necessary ew By Tom Tugend LOS ANGELES (JTA)--Jo- seph Dabby, whowasjailedthree times in Baghdad for the crime of being a Jew, did not wish for the war in Iraq. But he fervently hopes that American troops will free his native land. The president of Kahal Jo- seph Congregation, Dabby is among some 3,000 Jews of Iraqi origin and descent in Los Ange- les who are watching the war's progress with a mixture of anxi- ety and hope. " "We have deep roots in Iraq going back more than 2,500 years, and belonged to the old- est D'Laspora community,with a very strong Jewish tradition," Eliezer Chammou says. In his youth, Chammou re- calls, "everybody had a chance to study in community-sup- ported religious schools." Rabbi Haim Ovadia, the 37-year-old spiritual leader of Kahal Joseph, says, "I feel sad, because no one wants war, but it is necessary to get rid of this evil, this Saddam Hussein. No one can speak against him, and even criticiz- ing the color of his suit can lead to execution." What was once a thriving and influential com- munity of 130,000 Jews in Iraq in the 1940s has been reduced to fewer than 50 people, and no one in Los Angeles has been able to contact them for some time. "Even in the best of days you could only communicate with the remaining Jews through a third country," Dabby says. Many in the Iraqi commu- nity here express pity for the Muslims who once were their friends and neighbors. "I've seen how they tortured photo by Kahal Joseph Joseph Dabby, president of Kahal Joseph Congregation in Los Angeles. young Iraqi dissidents who couldn't trust their own fami- lies, and how frustrated they were that the Americans didn't finish the job in 1991," says Dabby, 57, a property developer. Lev Hakak, aprofessorofJew- ish studies and literature at UCLA, was born in Israel of par- ents who were part of the great exodus of some 110,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel in 1951-52. They were forced to leave behind all their property and assets. His father was an educator and had "some terrible memo- ties and some fond memories" of his native land, Hakak said. The most terrible recollec- tions were of June 1941, when a short-lived pro-Nazi revolt pro- duced bloody anti-Jewish riots. The fond memories included times when "Jews and Muslims lived in friendship and peace, Jews were in high government positions and we felt part of the political and intellectual life," Hakak says. "I hope it will hap- pen again and that Israel and Iraq will live in peace." Ovadia expresses a similar hope. "I don't like it when people say that all Arabs and Muslims are bad," he says. "I hope they decapitate the leaders but that the Iraqi people, who have been brainwashed, can live inademo- craticcountry."MembersofLos Angeles' Iraqi Jewish commu- nity, the largest such enclave in the United States, belong tovari- ous synagogues. But the center of their religious life is Kahal Joseph, on the West Side of the city. According to Ovadia, the Sephardic congregation con- sists of some 400 families. Most come from Iraq, butmany are descended from families that had immigrated to India, China, Singapore and Burma in the early 1900s. The past is etched deeply into their collective memory. According to tradition, the pa- triarch Abraham was born in Ur, along the bank of the Euphrates River, in southern Iraq. "We come from the birth- place of Judaism," Chammou says. The Jewish community dates back at least to the First Babylonian Exile in 586 BCE. Some cite the even more an- cient date of 732 BCE, when the Israelite tribes of Samaria were expelled by the Assyrians. "The community never as- similated, produced great schol- ars, rabbis and learned books, and for some 800 years, from 200-1038 C.E represented the intellectual center of the Jewish world," Hakak says. In the 19th century, Baghdad Jewry enjoyed an intellectual naissance under the leadership d the great scholar of Jewish mysti- cism, Rabbi Yosef Hayyim. By MaR Ballen the mostspectacularfeature of ametalwalkwayaliowsvisitors schools sit, spellbound, on the This is a particularly thrill- this huge complex, to view details from above, ground, as the craftspeople ing stop for anyone wanting to WINNIPEG, Manitoba-- Tel Qasile is an ancient site The whole Tel Qasile area perform their magic, ranging see physical evidence of an- Many tourists travelling to Is- dating as far back as the 12th also includes a sacrificial altar, from Ethiopian pottery-mak- cient Israel. raei visit the Israel Museum in century BCE. And although asecondaryshrine, akitchen, a ing to blacksmithing. The exhibit begins with a Jerusalem, and marvel at its most of the excavated temples service room, a street, a bibli- An Arab glassMower fromdisplay on and explanation of displaysofDeadSeascrollsand andotherruinswerePhillistine cal-era Jewish "house" put up Hebron, said to have offered how currency began. Contrary other biblical-era artifacts, in origin, many of those date after the museum opened, and impressive demonstrations of to what many might assume, ButtheHa'aretzMuseumin from the era when biblical Is- many other structures from his art, was one of the high- theancientshekelwasn'tacoin the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat rael flourished, thateraandlater, uncovered at lights of a visit there until re- - it was one of a series of eight Gan also has impressive items TheexcavationsofTelQasile, the site. cently. "His work was like a domeshaped "weights" de- from that era, including one of which is on a hill dominating The tel (Hebrew for "hill") ballet," said Marcia Ofri, aNew . :ribed in the Bible, ranging the Jewish state's biggest ar- the museum, began in the late also offers a wonderful view of York-born potter demonstrat- fromthe"kikar"tothe"agora." chaeological digs. 1940s. They were the first"sys- the Tel Aviv skyline, including ing her craft in the arcade. The exhibits then proceed to The museum, also known as tematic"archaeologicaldigsin some recently-built skyscrap- Because of Israel's security show how the weights gradu- the Eretz Israel Museum, the modern State of Israel. ers in the 50-story range, problems in the Hebron area ally evolved into more famil- openedmorethan30yearsago, Thesitefeaturestheremains Anothermust-seeareainthe since the Intifada started, she iar-looking biblical coins, in- and it's huge. It sprawls over of "a dozen l yers of civiliza- museumi. theTheCraftsmen's added, "he!s no longer able to cluding a fascinating series several acres and features no tion,"notesabrochureoutlin- Arcade, neartheentranceto e come." The Kadman Numis- from the Hasmonean era, and fewer than 13 separate build- ingthe Ha'aretzMuseum'sat- museum complex. Potters, maticPavilionisanotherfasci- another from Bar Kochba's ings specializing in subjects tractions, weaversandothersdemonstrate natingstop.Pavilionguideswill later reign, after his revolt ranging from ancient coins to AseriesofPhiilistinetemples avariety ofcraRs--some from escort you through a series of against Roman rule. 2,500 years of postal history, from the pre-Israelite and later thebiblicalera, andothersfrom exhibits, detailing the history Other features of the But for archaeology buffs, eras lie under a metal roof, to just a few centuries ago. ofhow coins have developed as Ha'aretz Museum complex the Tel Qasile Excavations are protectthem from erosion, and Children visiting from currency since ancient times, range from one of the world's rarest and most beautiful col- lections of ancient glass to a "postal and philatelic mu- As the airline of Israel, we want you to know that we will be flying today. And tomorrow. And the next day. As all of the days that we've always flown. And will always fly. seum", featuring "2,500 years . ~ . of postal h story m the region. If you get hungry, there's a restaurant in the complex, and if you clear it with the security guards at the entrance, you can go to and re-enter the museu free from a cheaper card across the street, featuring delicioUS Israeli soups, salads and other tasty food. Wind up your time at museum with a stop at the shop, offering a wide range of books and artifacts tyinginwim the displays you've just seen. The Ha'aretz Museum is so ' file" vast and vaned, there s so thing in it for everyone. Don't miss it on your next trip to Israel, and keep in mind tha! March and April offer some of the best weather for touring the Jewish state. Matt Ballen is editor of' Jewish Post & NewS, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada'S Jewish weekly. JFGO Cocktail Gala successfag The Federation Gala to honor patrons who ute $1,000 or more annually to the Appeal Campaign was a smashing success with over people in attendance. (Top) Co-hosts SUSAN BIERMAN, (1) VALERI~ StIAPIRO and JIM SItAPIRO. (Bottom) ALAN GINSBURG and NANCY LUDIN"