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  • Talma Gotteiner

Or Yehuda: The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center - An Inspiration for Rosh Hashanah

Hi there!

The Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center was founded in 1973 as a nonprofit institution to document, preserve and perpetuate the Babylonian Jewish heritage. To this end, a museum, research institute, library and archives were established. The Museum of Babylon Judaism takes visitors on a journey through time to the past of ancient glorious heritage starting from the Babylonian Exile in 586 BCE and for ~2,600 years thereafter. A visit to the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center is truly educational and inspirational for overcoming hardships and new beginnings.

The museum presents ancient architectural findings as well as a contemporary exhibition of the Jewish way of life, customs and culture in Iraq and in addition, hosts changing exhibitions that are related to the heritage and culture of the Jews of Babylon.

Or Yehuda: The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center

Bottom Left: A replica of the Cyrus Cylinder, the decree that initiated the Return to Zion

The museum's structure was designed around the traditional Jewish motifs related to the lifestyle in Iraq, presenting a home with an inner courtyard, an alleyway representative of the Jewish Quarter and a roomsize model of the Great Synagogue in Baghdad.

Through the permanent exhibitions, the contribution of the spiritual leadership of the major Yeshivas in Babylon to the existence of the Jewish people is presented, as well as the community's relations with the government and surrounding society throughout the centuries. The museum's exhibits draw a spotlight on the communities that make up Babylonian Jewry as well as the independent institutions established by them.

The museum has special exhibitions dedicated to the major events in the lives of Iraqi Jews in the 20th century - the Farhud riots that took place during the Shavuot (Pentecost) holiday of 1941, the establishment of the Zionist movement openly and underground, the mass immigration, the transfer and integration into the State of Israel.

Or Yehuda: The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center

Clockwise from top left: Ayelet Shemesh, DGM Content next to hidden Torah scrolls, a replica of an Olim tent that you can enter and the clandestine wireless station in Baghdad before establishment of the State of Israel.

The exile of Babylonian Jewry ended, but its rich heritage lives on. The literary compilation, "The Babylonian Talmud" is one of the primary sources of Jewish religious law to this day. Alongside the various exhibitions, the Center holds lectures, events, seminars and conferences throughout the year on various and varied topics from the history, culture and folklore of Babylonian Jews.

The center has an education and training department that builds unique and varied programs for schools as well as general visitors. The training department offers guided tours of the museum that can be enriched by an actress, a musical performance or lectures that can make the museum tour an unforgettable experience. The museum holds events to mark Bar Mitzvahs, birthdays, memorials and other celebrations personalized to the needs of the client.

Or Yehuda: The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center

Clockwise from left: Standing on the steps of the model synagogue, Emad levi former rabbi and last Oleh from Baghdad telling the story of the Baghdad community and actress Anat Aviad presenting the life story of Naima.

The center has a rich collection of Judaica art, ethnography and art as well as original documents and photographs, donated or borrowed over the years. There is also a research institute at the center that deals with the study of the history and culture of Babylonian Jews. The center provides research information for the museum's exhibitions, assists researchers, publishes books and the "Nehardea" magazine in Hebrew and English. It also maintains relationships with research institutions and researchers all over the world.

For those who are interested, the center's library curates a large and unique collection that deals with the history and culture of Babylonian Jews from the early exile to the present day. The collection is divided into sub-collections of books and journals, documents photographs, oral records, music, films and personal and public archives.

The establishment and operation of the center and museum would not have been possible without the generous support of donors from Israel and around the world and a large volunteer team helping to run it.

The center and the museum are easily accessible. There is an operating elevator and a wheelchair can be borrowed.

Opening hours of the museum Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays 9am - 3pm Tuesday 9am - 7pm Friday 10am - 1pm Closed on Sundays, Saturdays and holidays Tel: 03-5339278 Mordechai Ben-Porat 83, PO Box 151 Or Yehuda 6022687 English Website

Shana Tova! Talma

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