JOURNAL OF BABYLONIAN JEWRY


Issue 72 - September 1999

This is an overview of a selection of articles from this issue of The Scribe. The full selection are available through the menu bar on the left.

 

Peace Is Not Enough

 

Jerusalem - The Focus of Jewish History

Jerusalem is unique. A city which has taken nine measures of the world's beauty, when mountain air is clear as wine, where the Shofar (Ram's horn) sounds mingle with the ringing of church bells and the call of the Muazzins (announcers of the hour of prayer) above the mosques creating heavenly music, where sanctity reflects eternity. Jerusalem occupies little geography, yet much history.

Throughout its long annals, Jerusalem has become the pivot of Middle Eastern and Western history. Christian and Moslem prophets followed Jewish ones and embodied the city with their faith. Conquerors who came from the far corners of the earth devastated her and vanished. Only the Jews have maintained an unbroken bond of aspiration, longing, anticipation and, ultimately, reclamation. More

 

Man of the Hour, Prime Minister Ehud Barak

 

Prime Minister Ehud Barak has promised to bring about the peace of the brave. But peace is not enough! It must not be the end of the road, but only its beginning.

Iraqis Want Fair Play

I refer to the meeting hosted by Lord Janner regarding claims of Jewish assets in Arab countries, in the House of Lords. As a major potential claimant for my assets in Iraq and on behalf of 3000 Iraqi readers of my Journal, The Scribe, I wish to make the following statement:

In 1951, Foreign Minister Moshe Sharet stated in the Knesset that when the time comes to settle Palestinian claims for property they left behind, account will be taken of Jewish assets left in Iraq. More

 

 

Book Review : An Intelligent Person's Guide to Judaism

Agitated and entertaining! That's what I would call Shmuley Boteach. His mercurial mind jumps from one subject to another, burning up nervous energy to convince us that Judaism is not dead, that Judaism is not dusty and old-fashioned, but very much alive and well, and acutely relevant to now, to contemporary life. Why?? Because it "Champions law above love, practice about faith, and religious service above theology and dogma..." In short, because it sets out clear laws of ethics and conduct. And this, according to Boteach, is exactly what our modern and self-indulgent world is in need of. More

Book Review : The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon

In 1990, the author Richard Zimler was in Istanbul researching Sephardic Poetry when he discovered a set of 9 leather-bound manuscripts in a small cylindrical chest which was used by Sephardic Jews to house the Torah. The manuscripts were written in the square Hebrew script but the language used was old Portuguese. That is to say old Portuguese phonetically transcribed in Hebrew. They were all signed in a careful script by a man named Benekiah Zarco and seemed to have been written over the course of 23 years from 5267 to 5290 - 1507 to 1530 CE.

The Kabbalist of Lisbon is the translation of these manuscripts, a mystery story set in 16th century Portugal. More

The Arabs must come to realise that the State of Israel planted in their midst is more for their benefit than for the benefit of the Jews. The Arabs are lucky but stupid; the Jews are clever but unlucky. Look at the balance sheet. It is said that the State of Israel was the direct result of the Holocaust. But is the establishment of a precarious Jewish State in the midst of hostile neighbours worth the lives of 7 million Jews? The answer must be No. On the contrary, the Holocaust is to a great extent the product of Zionism. It was to prevent Jews in great numbers from reaching the middle-east. More

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewish Role in Iraqi Music

The Iraqi Jewish community settled in Iraq long before the Arabs occupied the country.

Jews mastered the Arabic language quickly, and participated in all fields of life. The leaders of the community were treated with great respect by the Khalifs.

This article deals mainly with the role of the Jews in music during the first half of the 20th century. The Jewish community in Iraq liked instrumentalists and treated them with respect for their skills and their artistic talents. Thus, during the first half of the twentieth century, Jews were virtually the only instrumental players in Iraq. They were the musicians of the Iraqi people. More

Property in Arab Countries

The decision of Mr Barak, the new Israeli Prime Minister, to start his negotiations with the Palestinians directly over the final settlement covering, borders, joint economical interests, water sources and immigrants parallel with the peace negotiations with Syria and Lebanon, brought immediate response from the Lebanese Prime Minister that the issue of the 330,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon and their rights to return back to their homes, where they used to live, be put at the head of the agenda of the peace negotiations with the Israeli Government. Aside of that, there were similar hints on this matter from Jordanian officials. More

The Ishtar Gate of Babylon

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. It houses the restored Ishtar Gate of Babylon. The attached gives a full view of the gate, and of a mural that decorated the throne room. It is really a very impressive structure.

Also restored was a cuneiform tablet that states that the builder of the gate was none other than our erstwhile 'friend' Nebuchadnezzar. This would date the gate to the time of the exile, and may have impressed our ancestors. More

Baghdadi Jews in Shanghai

Jacob Alkow, Hollywood producer and roving reporter, who came to Shanghai in 1937 as representative of a California citrus fruit company, wrote about the life of foreign residents in Shanghai during that period. Alkow, who later immigrated to Israel, had been in close contact with some of the wealthiest families of the Jewish community.

When he arrived in Shanghai, Alkow presented himself first to the Abraham family. Reuben (Ruby) Abraham was the son of the Rabbi David Ezra Joshua Abraham, head of the Shanghai Baghdadian Jewish Community, and related by marriage to the Sassoon family. More

 

 

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