In this coming-of-age memoir, historian and journalist Nissim Rejwan provides an insider’s view of Iraqi-Jewish life during the three decades before the mass emigration of Iraqi Jewry in the early 1950s. Drawing on memory and articles he wrote for the Iraqi, American and Israeli press, Rejwan interweaves his own intellectual and sexual awakening with the story of the brief cultural renaissance that took place in Iraq during the post-World War II era. He writes of life as a lower middle class Jew in Baghdad, the changes in the Baghdad Jewish community as Western-educated middle class Jews began to challenge rabbinic authority for leadership, and the impact of German propaganda on the country. Educated in local Iraqi schools, Rejwan also read widely in Western literature and social sciences, eventually landing a job as a reviewer for the English-language Iraq Times and working in a bookshop where he met Muslim and Christian Iraqi intellectual and literary figures. With its focus on living in Baghdad rather than leaving the country, Rejwan’s memoirs provide a rare view of Jewish life in modern Iraq.
The Last Jews in Baghdad: Remembering a Lost Homeland
Reeva Spector Simon is Professor of History at Yeshiva University. She is co-editor and contributor to The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in Modern Times (Columbia University Press, 2003).
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