The 'By the Rivers of Babylon' Exhibition
20 November 2002 - 6 April 2003
On 19 November Alan Yentob, Director of Drama and
Entertainment at the BBC, opened "By the Rivers
of Babylon", an exhibition exploring the roots
and heritage of Iraqi Jews at The Jewish Museum in
Camden Town. The long awaited exhibition drew much
attention as almost all those invited to the opening
attended, exceeding the organisers' expectations.
The excited Mr Yentob, one of the leading individuals
in British media today, told of his experience growing
up in a Jewish-Babylonian family in Britain - an aspect
that is represented in this remarkable exhibition,
spanning decades and centuries. Resplendent costumes
and a vivid reconstruction of a Baghdad street are
only two of the attractions of this fascinating exhibition.
It explores the long and distinguished history of
the Iraqi Jewish community, from its ancient roots
following the exile to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar
2,500 years ago, through to the present.
The exhibition evokes the daily life and vibrant
traditions of the community, their distinctive music
and cuisine and significant contribution to the development
of modem Iraq. It also records the "golden age"
of Iraqi Jews in the early 20th century and the tragic
final chapter that brought to an end one of the oldest
Jewish communities in the world.
The exhibition also presents the testimony of those
who escaped from Iraq to make new lives in Britain
and elsewhere. It charts the development of the community
in Britain, where families such as the Sassoons and
Saatchis have become household names.
Other highlights include photographs, objects and
memories recorded in oral history interviews with
members of the Iraqi Jewish community in London, which
provide an engaging and lively account of daily life
Mr Naim Dangoor contributed several artefacts for
the exhibition. One of them is a finely woven carpet,
made in none other than Pakistan, portraying his grandfather,
Rabbi Ezra Dangoor, as Chief Rabbi of Baghdad. Mr
Dangoor contributed some pictures as well. Among them:
a picture of his wife Renée as Miss Baghdad,
in 1947, the first and only Miss Baghdad and a picture
of the two of them with the Ambassador of Iran in
1971 at the celebration of King Cyrus the great at
the Iranian Embassy.
His sisters, Doreen Dangoor, lent an Isagh (old-fashioned
wrap) and other things, and Eileen Khalastchy lent
sundry items connected with various family events
and some photographs.
The Dangoor family lent an antique traditional costume.
Jennifer Marin writes:
As Curator of the exhibition I am delighted that I
have received so much help from members of your family.
If you would like to make any comments or contribute
to The Scribe please contact us.