Jews of recent times
By Meer Basri
Menahem Saleh Daniel
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
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
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
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
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
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
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