Special memorial prayer to be recited in memory of Jews from Arab lands
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Special memorial prayer to be recited in memory of Jews from Arab lands

Initiative backed by Israel’s Ministry for Diaspora Affairs urges Jews around the world to remember thousands buried in Iran and Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa

Hakham Ezra Dangoor, chief rabbi of Baghdad, pictured with his family in 1910. (Jewish News)
Hakham Ezra Dangoor, chief rabbi of Baghdad, pictured with his family in 1910. (Jewish News)

The mourner’s Kaddish and a specially designed memorial prayer will be recited by Jewish communities across the world this Shabbat, in memory of thousands of Jews buried in Iran and Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Israel’s Diaspora Affairs minister Omer Yankelevich asked Jews to take part in reciting the special prayer, or Azkara, saying: “A fundamental cornerstone of the Jewish tradition is our collective memory.”

On 30 November every year, communities recall the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries and Iran, and the Kaddish Initiative – which is supported by British Jewish philanthropist David Dangoor – is very much linked.

“Unlike other Jewish tragedies, there is no communal showing of religious solidarity for the exodus and expulsion of Jews from Arab countries, so it is vital that this be a widely recognised initiative to say these prayers annually in synagogues and Jewish institutions in Israel and around the world,” said Dangoor.

“Even in communities where there are few Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, these prayers and a display of religious solidarity are vital for breaking down the barriers between our different communities.”

Members of Dangoor’s Iraqi family are buried in a Jewish cemetery in Sadr City, Baghdad, but whose graves cannot be visited by relatives, which gave rise to the mass recitation of the Kaddish and Azkara.

“It is an important display of solidarity with the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa,” said Dangoor family member Sass Peress. “Our history should be acknowledged and never forgotten, to make sure it is never repeated.”

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