Iraqi Jewish Cuisine


The history of the Jews in Iraq, Babylonian Jews, is documented from the time of the Babylonian captivity c. 586 BC. Iraqi Jews constitute one of the world's oldest and most historically significant Jewish communities. The Jewish community of what is termed in Jewish sources "Babylon" or "Babylonia" included Ezra the scribe, whose return to Judea in the late 6th century BC is associated with significant changes in Jewish ritual observance and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Babylonian Talmud was compiled in "Babylonia", identified with modern Iraq. In the 20th century, Iraqi Jews played an important role in the early days of Iraq's independence. The Farhud Pogrom events of June 1941 propagating the emigration of the Iraqi Jews to Israel. Between 1950 and 1952, around 75% of the Iraqi Jewish community reached Israel in Operation Ezra and Nehemiah. The religious and cultural traditions of Iraqi Jews are kept alive today in strong communities established by Iraqi Jews in Israel The Jews of Iraq fled the country during the mid 20th century, but brought with them a rich and delicious cuisine. Their dishes are influenced from the Turkish, Indian, Persian and Mongolian kitchens. That blend gives the Jewish-Iraqi dishes a special fusion of flavors


On a more personal note, I married in to an Iraqi family. My husband Nadav's father's family emigrated to Israel from Iraq in the 50's. His father - Professor Sasson Somekh was a very proud Iraqi Jew. He wrote books about his story and became an authority of the Arab culture and language. He translated many books and poetry and was very well known for a book he wrote and for his relationship with the literature Nobel prize winner Naguib Mahfouz. Much more can be told about him but to me he was a wonderful father in law and I learned so much from him about the fabulous Iraqi cusine and community. Professor Somekh passed away last summer and is very much missed by his family. May his memory be of blessing. * In the picture Sasson Somekh standing on the left with his parents, sister Joyce & baby brother Henry.


More about Prof Sasson Somekh




If you want to say "I love you "with food, you make what is known as “Memulaim”. Taking fresh vegetables carving out the flesh, to create space for a tasty filling. Then braising them in liquid is just so much work that shows your love. This has got to be my favorite Iraqi food! We will be offering two kinds of "Memulaim" this week: Zucchini or Pepper "Memulaim" Both in meat or vegan options. All variation are gluten free.








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Tel: 415-881-0843  |  Email: bishulimsf@gmail.com

 

© pictures by Sara M. Park & Selina S. Lee