By Nava Mussaffi
Events and visits
We are excited to tell you that the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center reopened its doors on May 18, 2020 and is now working according to a new coronavirus routine. After weeks of staying home and an abundance of screen time, we are finally able to leave the house and breathe a little culture and history. The Center was opened in compliance with the instructions issued by the Ministry of Health as well as the "purple badge" guidelines for workplaces.
To arrange a tour or visit, please contact the Education Department: 972-3-533-9278, Extension 3.
On May 19, 2020, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the first flight that brought Iraqi Jews to Israel. To mark the event, we held a live broadcast on Facebook, Instagram and Zoom, carried out in cooperation with The Friends of the Station, a website that consolidates information about cultural, art and culinary events in the Tel Aviv area, hosted by Matti Ale. Aliza Dayan-Hamama, the Center's Managing Director, opened the broadcast, Orly Baher Levy, the Museum's curator, took us on a tour of the absorption exhibition, and from there we continued to the highlight of the tour – a special art project marking the 70th anniversary of the mass immigration from Iraq. The project, entitled Transitions, is an evolving wall painting created by the artist Rubi Bakal, an Israeli-born member of the second generation, who for several weeks has been painting on the walls of the Jeanette and Yehuda Assia Gallery that houses temporary exhibitions. The work offers his personal interpretation of the absorption experience that his parents and family members had. The event and virtual tour can be viewed on Facebook:
A Shavuot holiday cooking workshop was held on Friday, May 22, 2020, graciously led by Gila Levy who runs cooking classes for groups. This event marked the reopening of the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center following the coronavirus lockdown. Both men and women attended the workshop and learned how to make cheese-filled (jibn) sambusak, kaak (bagels) and kahi (breakfast pastry), which are traditional Shavuot delicacies. The aromas and recipes familiar to us from our childhood homes were accompanied by enlightening stories recounted by Gila.
After preparing and tasting the food, the question that everyone asked was: when are we getting together again?
Annual Event Commemorating the Victims of the Farhud and Martyrs
The annual event commemorating the victims of the Farhud and the martyrs in Iraq was held on June 9, 2020 on the memorial plaza adjacent to the Center. Members of the first, second and third generation attended the event. It was moderated by the Center's Managing Director, who delivered opening remarks and welcomed all those present. Liat Shochat, the Mayor of Or Yehuda, noted that "these events must never be forgotten, in each and every generation, and all the more so in our generation."
MK Ofir Katz, who was unable to attend the ceremony, conveyed the following message: "The memory of the Farhud is of utmost importance. At my initiative, the Knesset plenum marked the Farhud for the first time today. I will continue the efforts to preserve and impart its memory to the next generations." Other speakers included Brigadier General Roni Moreno, the Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Defense, and Tsionit Fattal Kuperwasser, a member of the Center's Executive Board. Attorney Nissan Sharify spoke about the research he conducted together with the historian Prof. Gideon Greif, which deals with recognizing Farhud survivors as victims of Nazi persecution.
Efi Dalumi addressed the audience on behalf of the Zionist Underground and Prisoners of Zion Organization. Hen Mazzig, who is a spokesperson for Israeli public information campaigns abroad, talked about his work as well as his relationship with his grandmother, who is a Farhud survivor. The author Yonatan Zadik, who is also a member of the third generation, spoke about his research and his new book entitled Majd. The book is about one of his family members, the martyr Yehuda Zadik, who was hanged in Baghdad in 1949. During the event, wreaths were laid alongside the monument and the singer, Yehuda Elias, moved the audience with his beautiful voice. The ceremony was attended by the Chief Rabbi of Or Yehuda, Rabbi Zion Cohen, who recited the prayer El Malei Rachamim and said kaddish to elevate the souls of the Farhud victims and martyrs.
A video of the ceremony, edited by Nira Lev Ari, can be viewed on YouTube:
The Museum's Education Department is continuing to do great work both at the Museum and outside the confines of the institution. As part of the Roving Museum initiative, we visited a number of schools in Or Yehuda. A joint undertaking between the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center and the Education Department at the Or Yehuda Municipality, the project spotlighted the 70th anniversary of the mass immigration of Jews from Iraq to the State of Israel. During the visits at the schools, Dr. Michal Ohana talked to the students about the Jews' immigration and absorption in Israel and described what life was like in the transit camps. The Illustrator, Nurit Serfaty, led an illustration workshop based on the book Childhood in a Transit Camp that was written by Geula Shayek Elani. And our in-house actress, Anat Aviad, amazed and amused everyone with her stories about life in a transit camp.
We also launched a new project called Recounted by the Museum, which is an initiative of our tour guide and volunteer, Yitzhak Haim. Yitzhak, who has made imparting the heritage of Babylonian Jewry his mission, lectures across the country to senior citizens and volunteers. The team of lecturers at the Education and Guided Tours Department embraced this wonderful initiative and they too deliver a variety of fascinating lectures. You are welcome to contact the Center's Education and Guided Tours Department and keep abreast of the dates and locations of the lectures.
Congratulations on a job well done!
On Monday, March 9, 2020, the Curation Department, under the direction of the curator Orly Baher Levy, launched an unusual art project called Transitions. It marks the 70th anniversary of the Waiver of Citizenship Law (Tasqit), under which Iraqi Jews were allowed to leave their country and emigrate to Israel if they agreed to relinquish their property and waive their Iraqi citizenship.
Rubi Bakal, the artist who was selected for the project, is a native Israeli who was born into a family that its roots in Baghdad. He came to the Museum, laid out some jars of paint, brushes, paintbrushes and sketches in the Jeanette and Yehuda Assia Gallery that houses temporary exhibitions, and began painting the bare walls of the gallery. During the past few weeks, while all of us were homebound due to the coronavirus, Rubi created for the Museum his personal interpretation of the immigration and absorption experience in Israel. This unique work of art continues to evolve before our very eyes. You are all invited to come and witness the process of Bakal's work in the coming weeks and enjoy an unforgettable meeting with the artist and the finished piece., which will remain on the gallery's walls for about a year.
In response to requests from visitors, we are pleased to announce that we have opened a virtual shop on the Center's website.
You are welcome to browse around, get an idea of the variety of jewelry, books and unusual items that are sold at the shop and place an order by phone - 972-3-533-9278, Extension 2 – or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The link to the virtual shop:
Iraqi in Pajamas
Spoken Judeo-Arabic lessons on Zoom:
You can still sign up…