|National Archives will unveil Iraqi Jewish artifacts|
|Friday, 21 June 2013 17:18|
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, Oct.11, the National Archives will unveil a new exhibition, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.”
The exhibit details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community in Iraq from a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters, according to a press release from the National Archives.
Located in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, “Discovery and Recovery” is free and open to the public and runs through Jan. 5, 2014. The exhibit marks the first time these items have been on public display.
In both English and Arabic, the 2,000 square foot exhibit features 24 recovered items and a “behind the scenes” video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZmP0uwzEII) of the fascinating yet painstaking preservation process. This exhibit marks the first time these items have been on public display.
The collection includes more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English, dating from 1540 to the 1970s. A special website to launch this fall will make these historic materials freely available to all online as they are digitized and catalogued. This work was made possible through the assistance of the Department of State, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Center for Jewish History.
The Jews of Iraq have a rich past, extending back to Babylonia. These materials provide a tangible link to this community that flourished there, but in the second half of the twentieth century dispersed throughout the world. Today, fewer than five Jews remain.
Among the key items on display are a Hebrew Bible with Commentaries from 1568 – one of the oldest books in the trove; a Babylonian Talmud from 1793; a Torah scroll fragment from Genesis - one of the 48 Torah scroll fragments found; a Zohar from 1815 – a text for the mystical and spiritual Jewish movement known as “Kabbalah”; an official 1918 letter to the Chief Rabbi regarding the allotment of sheep for Rosh Hashanah; materials from Jewish schools in Baghdad, including exam grades and a letter to the College Entrance Examination Board in Princeton regarding SAT scores and a Haggadah from 1902
Exhibit has several section
“Discovery and Recovery” includes the discovery story, which describes how these materials were found, rescued and preserved. A short film captures these heroic efforts. The text and heritage section explores Iraqi Jewish history and tradition through recovered texts, including a Torah scroll fragment, a Hebrew Bible with Commentaries from 1568 and a Babylonian Talmud from 1793.
Iraqi Jewish Life: Constancy and Change depicts the pattern of Jewish life in Iraq through recovered texts.
The National Archives, at the National Mall on Constitution Avenue at 9th St. NW, is open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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