Community in Iraq - World Jewish Congress

In 2021, an article published in the Times of Israel stated that there were just four Jews left in Iraq. One of the oldest Jewish communities still in existence is found in Iraq, according to the Jewish Virtual Library.

Following the 586 BCE conquest by the Babylonians, the captured Jews broke away from the Sephardim to establish the Baylim group.

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The Iraqi Jewish community is one of the oldest in the world and has a great history of learning and scholarship. Abraham, the first Jew and the father of the Jewish people, was born in Ur of the Chaldees, in southern Iraq, around 2,000 B.C.E. The community traces its history back to the sixth century B.C.E., when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judea and sent most of the population into exile in Babylonia.

The community also maintained strong ties with the Land of Israel and, with the aid of rabbis from Israel, succeeded in establishing many prominent rabbinical academies. The Babylonian Talmud, the most influential work of the Jewish community, attests to the fact that by the third century, Babylonia had emerged as the hub of Jewish knowledge.

Under Muslim rule, beginning in the seventh century, the situation of the community fluctuated. Many Jews held high positions in government or prospered in commerce and trade. At the same time, Jews were subjected to special taxes, restrictions on their professional activity, and anti-Jewish incitement among the masses.

Under British rule, which began in 1917, Jews fared well economically, and many were elected to government posts. This traditionally observant community was also allowed to form Zionist organizations and pursue Hebrew studies. All of this progress ended when Iraq gained independence in 1932.

Although emigration was prohibited, many Jews made their way to Israel during this period with the aid of an underground movement. In 1950, the Iraqi parliament finally legalized emigration to Israel, and between May 1950 and August 1951, the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government succeeded in airlifting approximately 110,000 Jews to Israel in Operations Ezra and Nehemiah. This figure includes 18,000 Kurdish Jews, who have many distinct traditions. Thus, a community that had reached a peak of 150,000 in 1947 dwindled to a mere 6,000 after 1951.

Persecutions continued, especially after the Six-Day War in 1967, when many of the remaining 3,000 Jews were arrested and dismissed from their jobs.


In 2021, an article published in the Times of Israel stated that there were just four Jews left in Iraq. One of the oldest Jewish communities still in existence is found in Iraq, according to the Jewish Virtual Library. 

Religious and Cultural Life

There is still one synagogue in Baghdad, and the synagogue's commitete is the only formal entity that works with the Jewish community. There are seldom any contacts with Jews abroad.

Relations with Israel

Since 1948, 129,539 Jews from Iraq have emigrated to Israel; 123,371 of these made aliyah between 1948 and 1951.

Kosher Food

For up to date information on Kosher restaurants and locations please see the Shamash Kosher Database

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