Historian speaks to 964media

Jewish community in Al-Hindiya: A historical overview

AL-HINDIYA, KARBALA — In Al-Hindiya (Tuwairij), like many other Iraqi cities, Jewish families were a part of the fabric of society. Historical records indicate their number did not exceed 60 individuals, known for their strong cohesion.

No historical references to Jews in Al-Hindiya exist until 1813. It is known that some migrated to India and their descendants returned to Iraq as trade agents. Engaging in commerce and banking post-1872, they acquired agricultural lands purchased from the Housing Committee in Al-Hilla.

Falih Al-Bayati, a historian, shared with 964media a glimpse into the Jewish community’s life in Al-Hindiya, highlighting their economic contributions and the unique traditions that marked their existence in the region:

The Ottoman state, considering them loyal subjects to the Sultan, did not harm the Jews. The Ottoman constitution granted them freedom of thought and belief within the bounds of law and order.

Despite being predominantly impoverished and underdeveloped, they played a minimal role in public life, held some government positions, and managed their education and trade independently, showcasing their unity and cooperation.

They had a synagogue in Tuwairij, where Aaron served as the trustee. Sacred texts like the Torah and the Talmud were read, and religious events were celebrated there.

Their dead were buried in Al-Hilla near the Mashhad al-Shams. Traditionally, when a girl was born, a daily sum was set aside for her dowry. They also followed the custom of slaughtering a healthy sheep on their festival, a task performed by the butcher, Naji.

As Al-Hindiya evolved into a bustling trade center, many engaged in domestic trade, exporting dates, and selling alcohol from their homes, with Rahmin bin Masouda being notable among them. Jewelers included Shlomo, Eliyahu, Isaac Moshe, David Muki, Rahmin, Salim, and Joseph Leah, while Nessim and Murad Jouri were prominent in grain trading.

Their economic power grew steadily, engaging in lending money to indebted farmers for seeds and fertilizers. Those unable to repay had to cede part of their agricultural land to the moneylender.

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