Photograph by Liam Sharp
Cynthia Kaplan Shamash
After escaping from virtual house arrest in Baghdad, 8-year-old Cynthia and her family landed in Israel then immigrated to Amsterdam. Today she practices dentistry in Queens New York.
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Timeline of the Jews in Iraq
Jerusalem burned to the ground. Survivors deported to Babylonia.
Destruction of the Jewish Temple. Collapse of the Bar Kochba revolt. Babylon becomes center of Jewish thought and learning for a thousand years.
Babylonian Talmud completed.
Caliph Ali makes Baghdad his capital. Babylonian Jews have the highest status in the Jewish Diaspora. Some persecution of the Jews, confiscation of synagogues, Jews forced to wear special badges.
The Mongol conquest of Palestine and destruction of the Caliphate. Persecution and massacres of Jewish communities. Much of the Jewish community either dies or flees.
The Ottoman Turks conquer Tabriz and Baghdad. Life under the Ottomans improves.
A plague wipes out most of the Jewish community. The survivors request a new Chief Rabbi from Aleppo in Syria. The Sephardic rite is adopted.
Iraq gains independence from the British. Iraq’s first minister of finance, Sir Sassoon Eskell, is a Jew. Many positions in the new government are filled by Jews.
Increasing anti-Semitism leads to dismissal of dozens of Jews from government, and deportation of Palestinian Jews and Zionists.
Following the collapse of Rashid Ali’s pro-Axis coup, the Farhud breaks out. 200 Jews murdered, up to 2,000 injured, and over $3 million in property damage.
State of Israel created, Iraq is placed under martial law. Jews persecuted. Shafiq Ades, convicted of selling goods to Israel and hanged. Zionist activity punishable by death. Jews forbidden to engage in banking or foreign business. Jews dismissed from government posts. $80 million dollars in property confiscated.
Government passes law legalizing Jewish emigration They must relinquish Iraqi citizenship and assets. 121,633 Jews flee the country.
After a brief period of peace, Abdel Karim Qassim, is assassinated during a Baath Party coup. The new government imposes extreme restrictions on Jews.
After the Six Day War, even more restrictions are leveled on the Jews. Placed under house arrest for months at a time. Lose telephone privileges, and are prevented from working. Dozens of Jews arrested for spying. 14 men are hanged in 1969.
Bowing to international pressure, the Baathist government allows most of the remaining Jews to emigrate.
There are six Jews left in Iraq.