by Martha Gabbay
The Sephardic Experience Week-End held recently honouring the Iraqi community began with services at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue on Central Park West, New York. Memories were rekindled by the traditional Friday night food, and the singing of Grace after the meal. Three generations sat together; strangers conversed as if they were old friends. Everyone enjoyed themselves. Friday evening concluded with a lesson on "The Life and Works of Rabbi Joseph Hayyim, The Ben Ish Hai."
The celebration of Iraqi continued after Saturday morning services. Participants were served a delicious Iraqi Sabbath lunch. The meal was followed by a lecture on "The Origins of the Baghdadi Community in India" by Prof. Joan Roland (see new titles for her book).
Iraqi Cabaret was the theme of Saturday night's entertainment. A trio of musicians provided old time melodies for our enjoyment. Hotly contested games of Shesh Besh were played, complete with vociferous bystanders offering advice. Everybody enjoyed the snacks, especially the dessert table.
Sunday was a day for lectures. The programme started with a tribute by Carole Basri to her grandfather, Frank Iny, and the Jewish High School he founded in Baghdad.
Dr. David Kazzaz of Denver, Colorado, gave a talk on the last wave of immigration from Iraq. He has authored a book, "Mother of the Pound: Memoirs on the Life and History of the Iraqi Jews," which is a tribute to the courage of his wife, and is to be published by Sephardic House. The book relates the final chapters in the history of the Jews in Babylon.
At Sunday lunch a lecture was given on "Jewish Writers Who Are Master of Arabic" by Prof. Sasson Somekh.
"May G-d Protect Them," a moving presentation of the 54 Jews remaining in Iraq today, ended the weekend. Sephardic House is the only organisation that strives to keep alive the heritage of minority Sephardic Jewish communities.
If you would like to make any comments or contribute to the scribe please contact us.