The Melting Pot Of Jews From Iraq

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Jewish immigrants from Iraq arrived at the United States between l900 and l905. At the outset, a few families set foot mostly in New York, some of whom opted to settle in Midwestern states where they could exploit opportunities of business in which they had particularly excelled.

World War I had witnessed the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. This had triggered a mass immigration of Jews from Iraq, adding to the numbers that had already immigrated earlier. They were mostly business-minded, and with the opportunities that were available in areas of their expertise, the new immigrants had triumphed in setting up enterprises that had served to establish their status as productive U. S. Citizens whose contribution to the society at large had paved the way for them to expand to horizons beyond their erstwhile successes in business and commerce.

World War II had brought in more Jews of Babylonian extraction to the United States. The immigrants were from countries such as India, Burma, Singapore, Shanghai and Indonesia.

There was a particular branch of immigrants from India and Burma that settled in Los Angeles. They were mostly engaged in commerce and were originally concentrated in ghettos that had allowed them to congregate from time to time in special social and religious meetings. There was a need for them to build a synagogue and, had left no stone unturned to finally succeed in doing so. The one and only large and reputable synagogue that continues to thrive to this day is Kahal Joseph. Culturally and spiritually, this synagogue accommodates worshipers that follow their own traditional mode of worship, in line with that of their ancestors in the old countries from where they had emigrated.

The Iraqi Jewish community in the United States have not departed from the tradition of their ancestors. Certain rites that had once been practiced in their birth places are still being zealously observed.

Today, there are a fraction of Jews remaining in countries such as India and Burma, most of whom had settled in Israel, some in Australia, and many here in the United States where they are presently residing in New York, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Miami and a number of other major cities.

The melting pot of the United States contains many Jews from different parts of the world. Those of Babylonian extraction have enriched this melting pot, and in some respects, added their particular spice of culture that makes this country, all the more democratically interesting to newcomers.



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