Sunday, October 25, 2009

Barmitzvah in Baghdad

With thanks: Ellis

This precious Youtube clip shows how Barmitzvahs used to be celebrated in Baghdad in the early 1960s: an intimate affair at home. No swanky, catered affair in a top hotel, this. The Haham, or chief rabbi (why do they always wear dark classes?) is on hand, in traditional head-dress, to help the Barmitzvah boy put on his teffilin. The ritual marks the moment when the boy becomes a man, with all the duties becoming an adult Jew entails. In this clip two friends share their Barmitzvah, as the mother of one of the boys was too sick to organise her son's.

There is plenty of home-made food for the guests, young and old (including the traditional, triangular cheese-, chickpea- or meat-stuffed sambusek), and a huge cake conveying 'Best Wiches' to the Barmitzvah boy. By the 1960s, only 5,000 Jews were still living in Iraq - 90 percent of the community having fled to Israel in 1950-51.

There are four clips of Jews enjoying their leisure in 1960s Iraq here. Clip Three shows Jewish families enjoying a picnic at the ancient temple of Hatra, south-west of Mosul. Great fun, even if you also need to change a tyre on your car.


SnoopyTheGoon said...

Ach, good sambusek is worth anything indeed!

Anonymous said...

Would be nice to know who these handsome people were, what happened to them, where they are now.

bataween said...

I can't divulge any names, but some of them are dead (one of the Barmitzvah boy's uncles was hanged on trumped-up spying charges in 1969) and the living are now in Israel, England and Canada, having escaped Saddam's reign of anti-Jewish terror in 1969 - 70.