We are delighted to announce a new arrival – Memories of Eden in Hebrew.
Ever since our book was first published in 2008 (republished in 2010 by Northwestern University Press in the USA) we have been aware that lack of English could prevent many for whom the story will resonate from reading it. We have been asked many times whether a version in Hebrew might be possible and now, by popular demand, it is. Our sincere thanks to Moshe Shemesh (no relation), an Israeli friend who has translated the work and organised publication via the Gvanim publishing house in Israel.
It should be in Israeli bookstores now and is also available directly via the Israeli website.
Startling evidence of the once vibrant Jewish life in Iraq came to light in May 2003 when over 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents were discovered in the flooded basement of the Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad by a US Army team. Now a dazzling new exhibition has just opened in Washington DC, explaining how the US National Archives and Records Administration and its partners have preserved, catalogued, and digitized the books and documents. A website, http://www.ija.archives.gov/, takes visitors through the exhibit and explains:
“The remarkable survival of this written record of Iraqi Jewish life provides an unexpected opportunity to better understand this 2,500-year-old Jewish community. For centuries, it had flourished in what had generally been a tolerant, multicultural society. But circumstances changed dramatically for Jews in the mid-twentieth century, when most Iraqi Jews fled and were stripped of their citizenship and assets.”
Many in the USA and around the world are concerned that if the material is returned to Iraq the future of the collection will be uncertain. They argue – and we agree – that the legacy should be kept safe in America (or better still, Israel). A well-argued article appeared in the New York Times on November 7 in which Cynthia Kaplan Shamash described the Archive as like lost luggage — “the treasures of a dispersed people who yearn to reconnect with something, anything, of the life they left behind.” Read the full article here: http://tinyurl.com/pygalde
Just in: a super message from ‘TheAnneelise‘ concerning our video on YouTube.
oh, my, LOVELY! I had no idea that so many Jews once lived there, although of course they would, as it was part of the Biblical narrative. Thank you for these precious memories of your Baghdad. Memory Eternal to your dear Mom and to all who have gone before!
I saw your YouTube movie and was very impressed. My father was born and grew up in Baghdad until he was 29 years old. He left iraq with the “ezra ve-nehemia” alia to Israel in 1952. There was no photo left from his life in Iraq, as they burnt all of them, fearing for the rest of the family who stayed later.My deepest gratitude for your film with the photos as I only heard about the places but never saw them.
My father is turning 90 soon, and we are trying to arrange a birthday party for him. I know he would be very moved to see photos from his youth in Baghdad. I wonder if it would be possible to get some still photos of the markets, the tigris, the bridges, main streets and Jewish neighbourhoods of baghdad from 1923-1952. I could show him your movie, but I know that he really enjoy it when he can hold a photo in his hand and look at it in his own time and pace, trying to identify places. The movie would be too fast for him.
In any case, it is a present just to be able to watch it, even in the movie (especially for me). Thank you so much for the effort you have put in putting it together.
By the way, did your mother ever come to Israel? I wonder whether there is a family connection – my father told me that all the Jews were must have been somehow related. His name is: Naim Halbi, and his closer families are: Shaharabani and Shamash/Shemesh, and Shakartchi.
Hope you are all well, and wishing the best for you,
with respect and warm wishes, and a lot of gratitude
It was through YouTube that I first heard/knew about Memories of Eden. The link*, I’m sure reached many other Iraqis around the world. Even those who couldn’t read the book were fascinated by its rare collection of old pictures of Baghdad. There is a sense of deep remorse among us Iraqis for the injustice done to Iraqi Jews. That being said, I’m sure you understand it wasn’t the people’s choice, or at least, most of the people. Maybe it is our choice and duty to correct the mistake. Fingers crossed.
Dear Mira & Tony
Below are links to a review in Arabic of your valuable book along with other memoirs of Iraqi Jews I had read, published recently in an Iraqi newspaper. I thought I should keep you posted though I’m almost certain neither of you can understand, much less read Arabic! Thank you and thanks to Violette for the wonderful journey.