By the Rivers of Babylon – Tablet Magazine

Posted By on November 21, 2019

Jews first arrived in what is today Iraq in the sixth century BCE, after the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar sacked Solomons Temple. It was from there that Ezra and Nehemiah led returning exiles back to Jerusalem. It was there that the Babylonian Talmud was debated, compiled, and codified. And it was there, in 1941, that the Farhuda violent pogromleft hundreds of Baghdads Jews dead and thousands injured.

While there were many phases in this 2,600-year-long history, Jews knew numerous prosperous periods in the land between the two rivers. They were politicians, jurists, doctors, businessmen. There was even a Jewish Miss Baghdad.

Today that community is all but gone.

In the prologue, My Heart Is in the East, host Mishy Harman talks to Edwin Shuker, whose family fled Baghdad in 1971, about his hopes for a new Golden Age for Iraqi Jews.

Act I: You Cannot Clap With One Hand. This is a story of daring escapes, ISIS, volunteerism, and the endless human spirit. Oddly enough, it is also a story of the legacy of the Holocaust. While generations of Israeli high school students have visited concentration camps and promisedin sincere voicesnever again, a Jewish grandma from Jerusalem named Lisa Miara made never again the guiding principle of her life. Producer Joel Shupack brings us a tale of one fearless woman who was compelled, because of what happened to her own people less than 80 years ago, to get up and act.

Ari Wenig wrote the original music in You Cannot Clap With One Hand. Joel Shupack arranged the music for the rest of the episode, and for parts of Act I with music from Blue Dot Sessions. Shai Satran and Mishy Harman edited the story, and Sela Waisblum mixed the episode, which was recorded in Jonathan Friedlanders Quality Sound Studio in Jerusalem. The end song is a new cover we commissioned of Boney M.s Rivers of Babylon. It was recorded, arranged, and performed by Shay Perry.

Listen to the full episode here, or download it from iTunes. You can hear all of Israel Storys episodes in English here and in Hebrew here.

Israel Story, the English-language version of the popular Israeli radio program Sipur Israeli, is distributed by PRX and produced in partnership with Tablet.

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By the Rivers of Babylon - Tablet Magazine

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