29.03.2011 23.Adar ll, 5771
Kurdish Jews have a long history filled with ups and downs, Chef Dennis Wasko retells their story as well as explores their unique cuisine.
It is believed that Jews have lived in the area of modern Kurdistan since the 8th century BCE. Also known as Assyria and Mesopotamia, the area now encompasses parts of Iran, northern Iraq, Syria, and eastern Turkey. The first Jews arrived after the Assyrian conquest of the Kingdom of Israel and the subsequent exile of the ten tribes during the period 858 – 824 BCE. An ancient Kurdish tradition relates that Kurdish Jews are the descendants specifically of the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, and Benjamin.
In his travel memoirs, Benjamin of Tudela related that there were about 100 Jewish settlements and substantial Jewish population in Kurdistan in 12th century. It is also from Benjamin of Tudela’s memoirs that we learn of David Alroi, the messianic leader from central Kurdistan, who rebelled against the king of Persia and had plans to lead the Jews back to Jerusalem. Benjamin of Tudela also reports of wealthy Jewish communities in Mosul, which at the time was the commercial and spiritual center of Kurdistan. During the crusades many Jews fled from Syria, the Levant, and Judea to Babylonia and Kurdistan….