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The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







Letters to the Editor

I am very impressed with your online publication as well as your links page. I think it is wonderful that you are recording Iraqi Jewish history and current events. My father escaped Baghdad and came to the United States, and I am very interested in learning more about my Sephardic/Mizrachi heritage. I would also like to meet other Jews of Iraqi ancestry. Do you know if there are any online communities (such as email groups or web-based newsgroups) of Iraqi Jews? I would think that in these days of the internet it would be fairly easy to form an online community for sharing stories and meeting people. I would also like to know if there are any Iraqi Jewish organisations, either cultural or religious, in the Maryland or central New Jersey/Philadelphia areas. I feel somewhat separated from my culture due to living in a majority Ashkenazi Jewish culture. Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Yvonne Violet Shashoua


There is a site on the internet of Iraqi Jews which might be helpful:


I am very pleased to note from The Scribe issue 73, which I came to receive just recently, that you have embarked on a very noble act of building a Synagogue in London. Yishar Kow-Hakh! Undoubtedly, by doing so you are putting more and more superb ‘humanity’ on display, which fact gives delight and pleasure to all the community wherever they are, seeing yourself harnessing all of your thoughts and actions towards our national essence, so much embedded in your consciousness, that at such moments our minds and hearts are naturally captivated by your engagements, and eternally noble acts. Please enjoy winning the grace of God.

As regards importing chairs from Italy for the Synagogue, I understand that Mr Victor Tchenguis who inaugurated a Synagogue in Israel several months back, had the chairs imported from Italy.

I can rather see even in Israel and among Sephardic Communities a preference toward having benches such as those found in the famous Synagogues in London, such as Marble Arch, Great Portland Street, Hampstead Garden Suburb, etc.

I would like to bring to you kind attention that the main central Italian Synagogue in Milan which was re-structured by Messrs Dwek and Picciotto a few years ago and who succeeded to give it a new name "David and Mordechai" Synagogue (the names of their respective fathers) preferred, as I was informed, to bring the benches from Israel: the style more or less enters in the category of the London Synagogues which I mentioned before.


Edward Yamen


I am writing to thank you for the copy of "Adi Zahav", a commentary on Chumash by Rabbi Hakham Ezra Dangoor, who is in fact my great great grandfather.

It gave me great pleasure to read the pages of the Sefer, and I look forward with anticipation to any future publications.

Ramat Bet-Shemesh

Michael Reuben


Map of Baghad and Basra

I am writing my memoirs of my life in Iraq, and I need street maps of Basrah and Baghdad. I would very much appreciate it if you could tell me how I can get these maps. I have not been able to get these maps in the USA. My email address is and my mailing address is 500 Manhattan Drive, B4, Boulder, CO 80303. My phone number is 303-499-6193.

Shaul Basri

The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Centre
83 M Ben-Porat Avenue
Or Yehuda 60261

tel no: 972 3 533 9278-9


I have been given to understand that a new issue of The Scribe was received by friends residing in the USA. I have checked here but no-one I talked to has received one in Montreal. May I have a copy?


Naim S Mahlab

Scribe: The Scribe is now on the internet and a colour print-out is obtainable from anyone who has access to the internet.

We are prepared to provide a print-out at a price of US$20 which includes airmail postage. However, we are sending you a copy with our compliments for your own use.


Subject: Volume 69.

I would like to obtain a copy of this volume (69)... can anyone help? I’m more than happy to pay for it!

Dennis A. Somech

If you would like to email your postal address we shall send issue No. 69 to you.

His reply:
Thank you ever so much for graciously sending me a copy of Vol. 69 of the Scribe. As I had hoped, the Somekh Family Tree that appeared in the issue indeed tracks my own ancestors, and I found my grandfather and my two great-aunts towards the more recent generations. My grandfather will be thrilled when he sees this, as I am sending a copy today. Thank you very much, and best wishes to you.

My grandfather’s name is Godfrey Somech, who appears at the bottom centre of the second page.


I was passing your premises today and noticed your brass plate. Being very interested in London’s buildings and their occupants, I should be very grateful if you could tell me something about your organisation, its history and how long you have occupied the premises.
I do not think I have ever heard of the Exilarch’s Foundation. Your help would be very much appreciated.


Garth Andrews


With reference to your letter dated 29 January, we are a Charitable Foundation. The Exilarch was the Head of the Jewish community of Iraq, going back to King Yehoyakhin, who was the first Exilarch. This office lasted until 1270 when it lapsed after the Mongol invasion of the Middle East. The office was revived by Mr Naim Dangoor in 1970 after a gap of 700 years.

We enclose a copy of our publication which you may find of interest.


I would be obliged if you could help me to find the address or telephone number or email address of Mr Albert Khabbaza. Mr Khabbaza is the brother of the late Esther Mercado, who was a very dear friend of my father the poet, Abraham Ovadiah. My father wants to get in touch with Mr Khabbaza, because he plans to publish poems translated by the late Esther.

We know both Esther and Albert used to write to your journal.

Mazal Deshe
Administrator – Computing Division
University of Haifa

As a result of having the operation, Esther sent us a farewell letter and a poem for her friends and the readers of The Scribe which we published on page 47 of No. 73, which has since been appearing only on the internet. If you wish to send any further material of Esther’s work we would be glad to consider it for future issues. Enclosed requested address.


I realise that we must move with the times and that the internet is now the best form of communication, but The Scribe on the internet cannot replace the pleasure of handling the magazine and turning the pages and reminiscing about one’s childhood and youth.

Would it be possible to publish it at an economic price like other publications?


Ray Sopher

Scribe: A computer colour print-out can be sent to all interested readers by sending a cheque for £10.00 (within the UK) or US$20 (overseas) to The Exilarch’s Foundation, 4 Carlos Place, Mayfair, London W1K 3AW, England


I am researching the origin of my family name, Magasis. My paternal lineage is from a Jewish village in or near Kobrin, Belerus. However family legend maintained that we originally came from a town which bore our family name (or from which our name was derived).

I have seen references to a town near the Tigris river (possibly between Al’ Amarah and Al Kut) with the name, "Magasis".

For example, the following is from a British historical reference:

"On the night of 24/25 April 1916 in Mesopotamia, an attempt was made to re-provision the force besieged at Kut-el-Amara. Lieutenant-Commander Cowley, with a lieutenant (FIRMAN, K.O.P.) (commanding SS Julnar), a sub-lieutenant and 12 ratings, started off with 210 tons of stores up the River Tigris. Unfortunately Julnar was attacked almost at once by Turkish machine-guns and artillery. At Magasis, steel hawsers stretched across the river halted the expedition, the enemy opened fire at point-blank range and Julnar’s bridge was smashed. Julnar’s commander was killed, also several of his crew; Lieutenent-Coommader Cowley was taken prisoner with the other survivors and almost certainly executed by the Turks."

I had also read of shelling between Iran and Iraq in December 1984 which targeted a town called Magasis.

Any information on the town and/or family name "Magasis" would be greatly appreciated. (Known alternate family name spellings include Magezis, Magzis, and Magesis)

Please write to me at:

Many thanks!

Steve Magasis
Seattle, WA, USA

24Hr Phone/Fax: (206) 784-9980 email:


We would like to inform The Scribe readers of a new website, dedicated to the Jews of Iraq who left Baghdad during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The genealogy section should interest all Iraqi Jews.


The Webmaster


My name is Ruth Sofaer and I am a daughter of Abraham Sofaer the actor. I was enormously interested in Sassoon Meyer Sofaer’s letter in The Scribe - I found Sassoon on the family tree that I have been developing for the last ten years. My great grandfather Hakham Abraham Sofaer married Aziza Aghasi - who was a cousin I believe. They were all of Bagdad. It was Hakham Abraham Sofaer who took his family to Rangoon to escape the unfriendly attentions of Sheik Daoud. My grandfather, Isaac Haim Sofaer, was born either in Bagdad or en route to Rangoon. Sassoons grandfather, Meyer Abraham Sofaer, and all subsquent children were born in Rangoon. I would be happy to exchange information with Sassoon Meyer Sofaer via email.

Ruth Sofaer



Wow! what a fantastically historical site you have!! My name is Joseph ElHadef, and I live in NY. I am Greek, Hungarian, Egyptian, and Iraqui. In the article from Montefiore Hall the lecturer mentions that Mr.Dangoor spoke to a crypto Jew in Saudia Arabia, tell me more about this incident? I had two Kuwaiti friends at Hofstra University in NY and they both told me that there are STILL Jews in Kuwait? As well as Bahrain? Tell me more about the Saudi Jews!

Joseph ElHadef

A crypto Jewish couple from Saudi Arabia with their twelve children came to London a few years ago and visited the offices of the Exilarch’s Foundation, asking for help to obtain a visa to enable them to emigrate to Israel. However, the Israel Embassy in London turned down their application and they decided to travel to Jordan and move over to Israel clandestinely.

According to their evidence there are thousands of crypto Jews in Saudi Arabia who lead a separate existence from the main population. To our knowledge, there are no Jews living in Kuwait, but a number of Jewish families still live in Bahrain, mainly of Iraqi origin.


Hi. My father, Moshe (Morris Mizrahi) paid for a lifetime subscription of The Scribe to be sent to him in Los Angeles several years ago, but has not received a new issue for over 2 years now. He so looked forward to receiving his subscription twice a year. Is this due to some lack of funds on your part or an oversight? Please let me know. If you are still sending out the Scribe in magazine form, please do so to his address in Los Angeles:

Barry Mizrahi
Los Angeles

The last printed issue in a magazine form of The Scribe was published and sent out in September 1999, which we assume your father has received. Since then it has been on the internet at or and is no longer issued as a printed magazine. The current issue is on the internet now. If you or your father wish to receive future issues by email, please let me know.

Alternatively a computer colour print-out can be obtained by sending a cheque for US $20 to:
The Exilarch’s Foundation
4 Carlos Place

With regard to subscriptions: we never accepted subscriptions, whether annual or lifetime, or advertising for that matter. Please give particulars of your claim.


Kindly send me The Scribe as it comes out on the net. My e-mail address is:

I am Jeffrey Gabbay, the son of Abraham Gabbay and Daisy Somekh, both from Baghdad. My parents moved to the USA in 1946 where I was born (in 1948). I moved to Jerusalem in 1973 where I reside with my wife and four wonderful children.

I want to take this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy the publication. I find the articles interesting and, in many cases, touching. It is nice to see such an important part of Jewish heritage being remembered and preserved. I find it exceptionally nice to see the names of people who were part of my childhood in many of your articles. I know a lot of work goes into each publication and I want you to know that it is appreciated.

Jeff Spencer Seliem Gabbay


Dear Mr Naim Dangoor

It was nice seeing you in London and hearing your son’s knowledgeable lecture on the history of Babylonian Jewry. Thank you for the two issues of The Scribe. You provide important information on Iraqi Jewry, the Holocaust, and other aspects of Sephardic/Mizrachi Jewry. I’ll try to survey your publication soon in an upcoming issue of my Sephardic email publication.

With much appreciation. Shalom.

Yitzchak Kerem

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Institute of Jewish Studies

Sefarad, The Sephardic Newsletter


In Issue No. 72, page 26, Ramzi Loya, born in the late 1930’s, wrote a letter to the Editor of The Scribe criticising the action or inaction of Hakham Sasson Khadoury during the rule of Al-Bakr.

In fact that was a very difficult period in the life of the Jews of Iraq and my late father did all that he could do in those difficult circumstances. He was powerless to do any more.

Shaoul H. Sasson


Hakham Shimon Agassi zt'l

In your SCRIBE issue no. 73, from July 2000, page 16, you have published an article about my grandfather, HAKHAM SHIMON AGASSI zt’l.

In the article you write: "Rabbenu did not accept comfort for his oldest son until his last son Ezra Tzion grew up and married his brother’s intended wife."

Putting facts correctly, HAKHAM SHIMON AGASSI’s last son was Eliyahu Chayim Agassi, who was born in 1909, 13 years after Ezra Tzion. Eliyahu came to Israel in 1928, and later was the Head of the Arabic Department in the ‘Histadrut Haklalit’, and the publisher of the ‘Hakikat Al Amar’ newspaper. Eliyahu wrote four books for children, which told many Baghdadi folklore stories, among them ‘Husham from Baghdad’ and ‘Hayafa Bat Haruach’.

I am Eliyahu’s son, and am called after my Grandfather.

I will be glad to share additional information about the family of my Grandfather with whoever is interested.

Shimon Agassi.
e-mail address:

View article on Hakham Shimon Agassi from Issue 73 of The Scribe


The Jewish Musicians of Iraq

My name is Shosh Gabay and I’m an Israeli journalist, daughter of Jewish immigrants from Iraq. I read in your web the interesting article by Yeheskel Kojaman, about the Iraqi music and the role of the Jews of Iraq in the Arabic music. I’m making a documentary movie about the subject and I would like to get in touch with Mr Kojaman. Would you be kind and pass this email to him?

Thank you.

Shosh Gabay

Mr Kojaman has been informed.


Jacob Benjamin Elias Synagogue
Starnford Hill, London N16 6QT England

18 December 2000

Dear Mr Dangoor

I must thank you very much for the books that have been sent to me and which were written by your grandfather, Hakham Ezra Dangoor. 1 found this to be a most wonderful book, very interesting, very digesting, so simple to understand.

Your grandfather, Hakham, had great wisdom to be able to write a book such as this, to be able to learn to understand our Bible. In his book he gives the translation in detail, which even a child can understand and learn.

I have given it to my Synagogue and my rabbi reads from it to the people, who enjoy hearing the passages and learn from it. I think you did a great job and a mitzvah having this book published. I wish it could have been printed in English, so that people unable to read Hebrew would have an understanding.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could let me have a few more copies of this book to distribute to my other synagogues.

May the Almighty give you strength, health and happiness to you and your family. May you see the weddings of your children and grandchildren. May the Almighty shower upon you all His choicest blessings which you so richly deserve.

Yours sincerely


Scribe: Glad to note that Mr Elias is making steady progress after his recent illness.


You carried a book review by Anna Dangoor on Jeffrey Pickering’s Britain’s Withdrawal from East of Suez (Read review). I would like to read this but am unable to locate it in the listings (Amazon, etc.) I would be grateful if you could confirm the publisher and publication date or the ISBN.

Barry Alexander
United Kingdom

The publisher for Jeffrey Pickering’s book is Macmillan, 231 pp, priced at £42.50, 0333 69526 7
There is another book which may be of interest to you, namely:
Demise of the British Empire in the Middle East
Britain’s response to nationalist movements, 1943-55
Michael J Cohen and Martin Kolinsky, editors
212 pp, Cass., £39.50, 0714 64804 3


I really enjoyed your piece about the Lemba people. I am really interested in their story as it unfolds.

However, at the end of the article you stated that several people all over claim to be descended from biblical tribes but don’t have proof. Well I think instead of assuming that these people lying, how about starting an International Search for the Lost Tribes in Israel in which those who claim to be blood descendants can be DNA tested. I think that would be more productive, historical, controversial, and interesting. Don’t you think????

Great job guys, keep up the good work!

Khaeem Yisrael


I received your postcard giving the internet details of The Scribe but found it very difficult to download issue no. 73. Please mail to me a print-out for which I enclose payment.

My best to Renée Dangoor – she and I went through school together in Shanghai, even played piano duets at community concerts – a long time ago!

Rose Jacob Horowitz
Los Angeles


I would like to know, according to the Shulhan Aruch, and what page, what are the requirements for women to have their heads covered by a hat.

Ida Prizament

Answer kindly supplied by Rabbi Abraham Gubbay:

The reference is in Shulchan, Orach Chayim, Chapter 75, sub-heading 2


The last issue of The Scribe I received was on 9/99. I was wondering what happened to the next two issues. I have been receiving this valuable journal for several years. If you’ve had a change of policy regarding subscription, please let me know and I’ll be glad to oblige. This journal is a resource and, a very good one at that, to all of the Babylonian Jews such as myself. I would like to continue receiving this excellent journal.

Shamoon Salih
New York

Scribe reply:
The reason for your not receiving our current issue, No. 73, is because The Scribe is now appearing only on the internet (, one issue per year, and the last printed edition was No. 72. However, if you wish, we can send you a print-out in colour of the current issue at a cost of US $20, including postage.


Pharaoh and Kings

David Rohl has personally seen to it that we have 6 of his colleagues and co-authors with us – including major contributors to his 2 books, "Pharaohs & Kings", and "Legend". In addition to Egypt, we are also looking at Mesopotamia, Assyria and of course interesting subjects such as Santorini and Petroglyphs!

David Rohl is an Egyptologist, but as he works on the Timeline for ancient Egypt, the Old Testament cities and characters in the Bible really come to life more than ever before! (His first book, "Pharaohs & Kings" covers the time period of King David and King Solomon and works back through time, with Moses & Joseph. David’s second book, "Legend: Genesis of Civilisation", covers the flood, and works back to the Garden of Eden).

I hope you will consider joining us – at least I want you to know that you are invited.

Cannie McCraw


If you would like to make any comments or contribute to The Scribe please contact us.