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1 Beaverton World History- Middle East

My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq

by

My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"I am the keeper of my family's stories. I am the guardian of its honor. I am the defender of its traditions. As the first-born son of a Kurdish father, these, they tell me, are my duties. And yet even before my birth I resisted."

So begins Ariel Sabar's true tale of a father and a son, and the two worlds that kept them apart and finally brought them together: ancient Iraq and modern America.

In a remote corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an enclave of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers, humble peddlers and rugged loggers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born.

Caught unawares by growing ethnic tensions in the Middle East after World War II, the Jews of Zakho were airlifted to the new state of Israel in the 1950s with the mass exodus of 120,000 Jews from Iraq--one of the world's largest and least-known diasporas. Almost overnight, the Kurdish Jews' exotic culture and language were doomed to extinction.

Yona's son Ariel knew little of his father's history. Growing up in Los Angeles, where Yona had become an esteemed professor at UCLA and had dedicated his career to preserving his people's traditions, Ariel wanted nothing to do with his father's strange immigrant heritage. Until he had a son of his own.

My Father's Paradise is Ariel Sabar's quest to reconcile present and past. As Ariel and his father travel together into today's postwar Iraq to find what's left of Yona's birthplace, Sabar brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, telling his family's story and discovering their place in the sweeping saga of the Sephardic Jews' millennia-long survival in Islamic lands. He introduces us to his spiritual great-grandfather, the village cloth dyer by day

Review:

If Ariel Sabar's "My Father's Paradise" were only about his father's life, it would be a remarkable enough story about the psychic costs of immigration. But Sabar's family history turns out to be more than the chronicle of one man's efforts to retain something of his homeland in new surroundings. It's also a moving story about the near-death of an ancient language and the tiny flicker of life that... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

Sabar once looked at his [immigrant] father with shame, scornful of the alien who still bore scars on his back from childhood bloodlettings. This book, he writes, is a chance to make amends.--"New York Times Sunday Book Review."

Synopsis:

In a remote corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an enclave of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers and humble peddlers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born. 

Yona's son Ariel grew up in Los Angeles, where Yona had become an esteemed professor, dedicating his career to preserving his people's traditions. Ariel wanted nothing to do with his father's strange immigrant heritage--until he had a son of his own.

Ariel Sabar brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, discovering his family's place in the sweeping saga of Middle-Eastern history. This powerful book is an improbable story of tolerance and hope set in what today is the very center of the world's attention.

Synopsis:

In a remote and dusty corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an ancient community of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic--the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers, humble peddlers and rugged loggers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born.

In the 1950s, after the founding of the state of Israel, Yona and his family emigrated there with the mass exodus of 120,000 Jews from Iraq--one of the world's largest and least-known diasporas. Almost overnight, the Kurdish Jews' exotic culture and language were doomed to extinction. Yona, who became an esteemed professor at UCLA, dedicated his career to preserving his people's traditions. But to his first-generation American son Ariel, Yona was a reminder of a strange immigrant heritage on which he had turned his back--until he had a son of his own.

My Father's Paradise is Ariel Sabar's quest to reconcile present and past. As father and son travel together to today's postwar Iraq to find what's left of Yona's birthplace, Ariel brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, telling his family's story and discovering his own role in this sweeping saga. What he finds in the Sephardic Jews' millennia-long survival in Islamic lands is an improbable story of tolerance and hope.

Populated by Kurdish chieftains, trailblazing linguists, Arab nomads, devout believers--marvelous characters all-- this intimate yet powerful book uncovers the vanished history of a place that is now at the very center of the world's attention.

Ariel Sabar's My Father's Paradise is the Winner of the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography.

About the Author

Ariel Sabar is an award-winning former staff writer for the Baltimore Sun and the Providence (RI) Journal. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Monthly, Moment, Mother Jones magazine, and other publications. He lives with his wife and two children in Washington, D.C.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781565124905
Subtitle:
s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq
Author:
Sabar, Ariel
Publisher:
Algonquin Books
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Middle East - General
Subject:
Ethnic Cultures - General
Subject:
Jewish studies
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Israel
Subject:
HISTORY / Middle East/General
Subject:
Sabar, Yona
Subject:
Jews, Kurdish - Iraq - Zakhu
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20080916
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
325
Dimensions:
9.0 x 6.0 in

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » History and Social Science
History and Social Science » Middle East » Iraq
History and Social Science » World History » Middle East

My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq Used Hardcover
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$8.50 In Stock
Product details 325 pages Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill - English 9781565124905 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Sabar once looked at his [immigrant] father with shame, scornful of the alien who still bore scars on his back from childhood bloodlettings. This book, he writes, is a chance to make amends.--"New York Times Sunday Book Review."
"Synopsis" by ,
In a remote corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an enclave of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers and humble peddlers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born. 

Yona's son Ariel grew up in Los Angeles, where Yona had become an esteemed professor, dedicating his career to preserving his people's traditions. Ariel wanted nothing to do with his father's strange immigrant heritage--until he had a son of his own.

Ariel Sabar brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, discovering his family's place in the sweeping saga of Middle-Eastern history. This powerful book is an improbable story of tolerance and hope set in what today is the very center of the world's attention.

"Synopsis" by , In a remote and dusty corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an ancient community of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic--the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers, humble peddlers and rugged loggers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born.

In the 1950s, after the founding of the state of Israel, Yona and his family emigrated there with the mass exodus of 120,000 Jews from Iraq--one of the world's largest and least-known diasporas. Almost overnight, the Kurdish Jews' exotic culture and language were doomed to extinction. Yona, who became an esteemed professor at UCLA, dedicated his career to preserving his people's traditions. But to his first-generation American son Ariel, Yona was a reminder of a strange immigrant heritage on which he had turned his back--until he had a son of his own.

My Father's Paradise is Ariel Sabar's quest to reconcile present and past. As father and son travel together to today's postwar Iraq to find what's left of Yona's birthplace, Ariel brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, telling his family's story and discovering his own role in this sweeping saga. What he finds in the Sephardic Jews' millennia-long survival in Islamic lands is an improbable story of tolerance and hope.

Populated by Kurdish chieftains, trailblazing linguists, Arab nomads, devout believers--marvelous characters all-- this intimate yet powerful book uncovers the vanished history of a place that is now at the very center of the world's attention.

Ariel Sabar's My Father's Paradise is the Winner of the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography.

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