The Arabic word for Jew is "Yahud" and historically the Yahudic Jews settled in Iraq. They proclaim they are descendants of the Jews who were deported from Israel by the Babylonians in 538 BC. Living in a predominated Muslim/Arabic country these Yahudics developed a distinct dialect known as Baghdad Jewish Arabic which resembles the Arabic spoken in Northern Iraq and Syria. Their written script shows some signs of Aramaic.
In the last 80 years most of these people migrated to Israel and England to escape increased persecution. A major part of this exodus occurred In March 1951, when the Israeli government organized an airlift operation to take them to Israel. This operation was named after the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah, who led the Jewish people from exile in Babylonia to return to Israel in the 5th century BC, as recorded in the Old Testament. At this time Israel issued a proclamation for these Jewish people to sign up for the immigration. The opening words were "O, Zion, flee, daughter of Babylon." From 1951 to 1952, Operation Ezra and Nehemiah airlifted between 120,000 and 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel through Iran and Cyprus.
Prior to Operation Ezra and Nehemiah, there were 28 Yahudic Jewish educational institutions in Baghdad. The number of students attending these schools reached as high as 12,000. Several hundred of these students were able to study medicine, law, economics, and engineering. The Yahudics had two hospitals in which the poor could receive free treatment. They also had a school for the blind. Their deep love for music was well known. They organized many concerts for the Iraqi Orchestra in Baghdad.
What is sad is most of these Yahudic Jews had lived at peace for many years with their Muslim neighbors. Following their emigration to Israel, the Iraqi government seized most of their property. Out of sixty synagogues in 1950, there remained only seven after 1970. In 1969, as a reaction to the Arab loss in the Six Days War, nine Yahudic Jews were falsely accused of spying for Israel, and hanged in Baghdad. As a result, in the early 1970s, small groups of these Jewish people were smuggled across the border to Iran with the help of the Kurds in the north.
The Yahudic community is now dying out in Iraq. Most live in Israel, though some live in England, Canada or the United States.
Many of the older generation Yahudic Jews in Israel are deeply proud of the success of their Aliya (immigration), as they feel that they were in charge of their own fate. Most of them that came to Israel managed to integrate with the Israeli Ashkenazi population and have continued to prosper. Although education is important to them, many work in professions requiring manual labor.
Most of them are secular and their Iraqi culture is all but lost. Their children speak Hebrew or English. Only the older Yahudics speak a few words in their original Judeo-Arabic language.
One thing that has endured is their love for the music associated with their Jewish-Arabic background. The city of Ramat-Gan in Israel has a large populous of Yahudic Jews where some still perform their traditional Iraqi music.
Except for Jewish Holidays like Passover, most Yahudics are secular and not committed to their Jewish faith. One Israeli Yahudic explained it this way, "Although most Iraqi (Yahudic) Jews may not be traditionally religious, there is no question that they are religiously traditional, and proud of it."
Yahudics are by nature a proud and independent people. Most of them are removed from following God's laws and teaching as given to the Jewish people in the Old Testament. The majority do not know or accept God's account of how he guided the Jewish people in the Hebrew text. They need to see that God desires them to turn to him. They need to discover how he provided the prophesies that point them to Jesus.
Pray that committed Christians will be prepared by God to reach the Yahudic Jewish people in Israel and beyond.
Pray that those who are willing to make this commitment will have understanding, patience, wisdom, and endurance.
Pray that their deep love for music will lead them to worship their Messiah through song. Isaiah 55:12 says, "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
Scripture Prayers for the Jew, Yahudic in Israel.
|Profile Source: Joshua Project|
|People Name General||Jew, Yahudic|
|People Name in Country||Jew, Yahudic|
|Natural Name||Yahudic Jew|
|Population this Country||100,000|
|Population all Countries||107,000|
|Progress Scale||1 ●|
|Frontier People Group||Yes|
|GSEC||1 (per PeopleGroups.org)|
|Pioneer Workers Needed||2|
|Alternate Names||Arab, Judeo-Iraqi; Iraqi Jew; Jewish; Judeo-Iraqi; Judeo-Iraqi Arabs; Yahudic, Arab|
|Primary Language||Arabic, Judeo-Iraqi (100,000 speakers)|
|Language Code||yhd Ethnologue Listing|
Primary Language: Arabic, Judeo-Iraqi
Bible Translation Status: Unspecified
|Resource Type ▲||Resource Name||Source|
|Audio Recordings||Arabic Bible Online||Arabic Bible Outreach Ministry|
|Audio Recordings||Audio Bible teaching||Global Recordings Network|
|Text / Printed Matter||Tools for faith conversations||Campus Crusade for Christ|