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The articles in this issue have been divided upinto the following categories







Prominent Iraqi Jews of recent times

By Meer Basri

Menahem Saleh Daniel (1846- 1940)
Iraqi landowner and philanthropist. Deputy for Baghdad to the 1st Ottoman Parliament in Istanbul (1876). Senator of the Kingdom of Iraq (1925-1932), gave substantial sums to Jewish and Muslim charities. Built a Muslim orphanage (1928) and a Jewish elementary school (1910)

His son Ezra Daniel (1874-1952) succeeded his father as member of the Senate (1932). Was also a well- known philanthropist and helped many charitable causes.

Salim Sasson Daniel (1901-1977) was the first I Iraqi civil aviator (1930). He subsequently left Baghdad and resided in London where he died.

Sir Sasson Heskel (1860-1932)
First Minister of Finance of the nascent Kingdom of Iraq (1920-1923 and 1924-1925). Scion of an old and wealthy Jewish family, his father Hakham Heskel built a synagogue . Sasson studied in Istanbul and Vienna. Deputy for Baghdad in the Ottoman Parliament (1908-1918), member of a Turkish delegation to London in 1909 and under-secretary of state for Trade and Agriculture. Returned to Baghdad in 1920 and was Minister of Finance in the first Iraqi administration. Represented Iraq with Ja'far Pasha the Minister of Defence at the Cairo Conference of 1921, which under Winston Churchill the new British Colonial Secretary, chose the Emir Faisal to be king of Iraq and constituted the Emirate of Trans- Jordan (subsequently the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan) for Faisal's brother Emir Abdullah. Member of Parliament (1925) until his death in Paris. Appointed K.B.E by King George V (1923).

David Samra (1877-1960)
Outstanding Iraqi Judge, he was vice president of the High Court of Cassation (1923 - 1946). At the same time he was lecturer at the Law College for 32 years (1919-1951). Studied law in Istanbul and served as judge during Turkish and Iraqi periods.

Abraham Elkabir (1885-1973), outstanding Iraqi high official. Studied law and was for many years Accountant- General and Director- General of Finance (1927-1948). He represented Iraq at the Bretton Woods Conference (1944) and many other financial conferences in Istanbul, Geneva, Jordan and the U.S.A.

Abraham Haim (1876-1952) was assistant political officer in Hillah during the British occupation of Mesopotamia. He then served in the Ministry of Finance of Iraq and held the directorate of Pensions and other high posts. Elected deputy for Baghdad in 1932, he served eighteen years in Parliament and was an outstanding rapporteur of the financial committee of the Chamber. Member of the parliamentary delegation to the League of Nations when Iraq joined the League in 1932.

Hakham Joseph Haim (1834-1909) eminent rabbi, scion of the famous rabbinical family. Author of several religious books printed in Baghdad and Jerusalem. Also cabbalist and preacher.

Hakham Ezra Reuben Dangoor (1848-1930) well known rabbi, preacher and author of several books and commentaries on the Torah. Rabbi of Rangoon, Burma (1893), Chief Rabbi of Baghdad (1923-1927). Established one of the first Hebrew and Arabic printing presses in Baghdad (1904)

Salim Is'hac (Ishaac) (1877-1948) lawyer and author. Studied law and worked as an advocate. Was for many years translator for the German Consulate, and after WW1, to the German legation. Was also secretary to the Jewish Community of Baghdad. Wrote books in Hebrew and Arabic.

Saleh Kahtan (1893-1971) Lawyer and member of the Iraqi parliament. Was a high official of the Turkish Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs in Istanbul. Returning to Baghdad in 1921 he was appointed legal adviser to the Ministry of Finance (1922-1929)

Ezra Haddad (1900-1972) well- known writer and educator. He was for many years principal of the National School in Baghdad. He wrote several books and translated Benjamin of Tudela's Travel into Arabic. He emigrated to Israel in 1951 where he continued his literary and cultural activities.

Anwar Shaool (1904-1984) well known Iraqi (Arabic) poet and lawyer. He published "Al Hassid" literary magazine (1929-1938) and issued several collections of poems, short stories, translations and memoirs. Left Baghdad in 1971 settled in Israel.

Sir Elly Kadourie (1867-1944) eminent trader, financier and philanthropist. He left Baghdad aged 13 for India and, with his brother Sir Ellis (1865-1922) made a great fortune in Shanghai, Hong Kong and London. His charitable works extended from the Far East to the Near East and Europe. He built many schools, hospitals and trade institutes in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk, Damascus, Tehran and other Persian cities, Istanbul, London Paris, Canton, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Porto (Portugal). He drilled artesian wells in India in the name of Rabindranath Tagore and established, in 1921, two agricultural schools in Palestine. One for the Jews and the other for the Arabs. His son Lawrence Lord Kadourie and sir Horace, both of Hong Kong, followed in his philanthropist footsteps.

Jacob Silas Haskell (1857-1939) an able financier. Born in Baghdad he left for India aged 13. He subsequently moved to Hong Kong and later on to London. He was one of the founders of the Eastern Bank in London, with branches in Baghdad and other Iraqi and Gulf cities (1909), and remained its chairman until his death. He was also connected with other financial ventures, especially the Belgian Bank for Overseas. He was a member of the Iraq Currency Board in London

Khadhowi Zilkha (1886-1956) well-known international banker. He started his Banking activities in Baghdad in 1902 and subsequently extended his financial empire to Beirut, Damascus, Cairo, Alexandria, Geneva, New- York, Paris and the Far- East. He died in New York where he settled since 1942.

Hakham Abdallah Abraham Somekh (1813-1889) leading rabbi of Baghdad in the nineteenth century, he taught rabbinical studies for more than fifty years and his disciples dominated the rabbinical scene in Iraq, Palestine, India and the Far East. Author of a valuable book on ritual slaughter and other theological subjects.

Murad Mikhael (1906-1986), Iraqi poet and educator, was a teacher and headmaster of Jewish private schools. At the same time he studied law. He went to Tehran in 1947 to be the head of a school created by the expatriate Iraqi community, but left after a few years to Israel where he had a distinguished career in Arab education as inspector and instructor at the university of Tel Aviv. His complete poetical works were posthumously published by his wife.

Dr Jack Aboudi Shabi (1908-1980) eminent Iraqi doctor specialized in nervous and mental diseases (neurologist). Studied in Baghdad and London and subsequently with the famous Professor Hans Hoff of Vienna who lived in Baghdad during the Second World War. Dr. Shabi was for a time director of the Baghdad Mental Hospital and professor at the Royal College of Medicine. He left Baghdad in 1971 to London where he served as doctor in the Prisons Department.

Abraham Shalom Yahuda (1877-1951) professor of oriental languages, born in Jerusalem of a distinguished Jewish Iraqi family. He studied at the Universities of Heidelberg and Strasburg and was a pupil of the German Orientalist Noldecke in the Berlin Hochschule. He served as professor at the Madrid University and the New School for Social Research, New York. Author of several books in German, English, Hebrew and Arabic on the Baghdadian dialect, the language of the Pentateuch in its relation to Egyptian, the accuracy of the Bible, etc.

General Jack Jacob (1925) born in Calcutta, a scion of a Jewish Baghdadi family who emigrated to India, he joined the Indian Army and fought in the Second World War. He rose in the ranks to lieutenant general and was second in command during the Indian- Pakistan war of 1971 which led to the independence of Bangladesh. He was offered the governorship of Assam on his retirement from the army, but refused it and went into business.

Sir David Elias Ezra (1871-1947) came from a prominent Iraqi Jewish family who went to India in the nineteenth century. He married Rachel, daughter of Solomon David Sassoon and were both famous for their philanthropic work. Sir David created a private zoo and was Sheriff of Calcutta and director of the Reserve Bank of India. He was also very interested in many commercial projects, e.g. jute, coal, milling, steel and shipping.

Moses Mordechai Gubbay (1876-1947) coming from an old Iraqi Jewish family, he was born in Shanghai and studied at Clifton College and Caius college, Cambridge. He joined the Indian civil service and rose to be director of the Bombay Customs, head of the Wheat Department, Superintendent of the Indian Currency and finally, in the 1920, Financial Secretary to the Government of India.

Shaul Abdallah Joseph (1849-1906) prominent author and merchant, he was born in Baghdad and went to India at the age of 18. He subsequently went to Hong Kong where he settled and worked in business. He was a regular correspondent of Jewish newspapers and magazines and wrote on the Chinese Jews etc. He was a proficient scholar of the Hebrew language, the Talmud and Arabic literature. His Hebrew works were published posthumously.

Abraham David Sofaer (1938) born in Bombay of Jewish Iraqi parentage. Came to the U.S.A. in 1948 and studied law. Held successive positions of law professor and judge and finally was legal advisor to the department of state, Washington D.C (1985-90)


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