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Mīkhāʾīl , Murād

(657 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
Murād Mīkhāʾīl was an Iraqi/Israeli  poet, short story writer, literary historian, and educator. Born in Baghdad in 1906, he was educated at the Raḥel Shaḥmūn and Alliance Israélite Universelle schools; in 1938 he graduated from the Baghdad Law College. Between 1928 and 1940 he taught Arabic language and literature at the Shammāsh School in Baghdad, and in 1941 he was appointed its headmaster, continuing in that position until 1947.From the early 1920s, Mīkhāʾīl  showed a strong interest in poetry and, to a lesser degree, in fiction. In 1922, he published his fi…

Mesopotamian Zionist Committee (Baghdad)

(308 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
The Mesopotamian Zionist Committee (Heb. ha-Aguda ha-Ṣiyyonit le-Aram Naharayim; Ar. al-Jamʿiyya al-Ṣahyūniyya li-Bilād al-Rāfidayn) was founded in Baghdad on March 5, 1921, with the assistance of the Jewish Agency. The head of the committee, Aaron Sasson ben Eliahu Nahum (1877–1962), known as ha-more (Heb. the teacher), is considered to have been the first Iraqi Jewish exponent of political Zionism. The committee took over the club and library of the Jewish Literary Society (Ar. al-Jamiʿiyya al-Adabiyya al-Isrāʾīliyya) and pressed the Zionist cause in Iraq. Zion…

Ibrāhīm, Istīrīna

(279 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
Istīrīna (Esterina) Ibrāhīm, journalist and short story writer, was born in Baghdad in 1914. She was the daughter of Ibrāhīm Ḥayyim Mu‘allim Nissīm, a member of the Iraqi Parliament. She married the writer and poet Anwar Shā’ūl (1904–1984) while she was working as a journalist for al-Ḥāsid and he was its editor. She also published short stories there in which she revealed a sensitive feminist awareness of the difficulties of women in traditional Iraqi society. At the same time, she drew the attention of women to their responsibilities to th…

Khaḍḍūrī, Sassoon

(595 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
Sassoon Khaḍḍūrī was born in either 1880 or 1886 and educated at the Bet Zilkha yeshiva in Baghdad. He headed the Baghdadi Jewish community for three terms (1928–1930, 1933–1949, 1953–1971) and also served as ḥakham bāshī (chief rabbi) during his first term as head of the community. Khaḍḍūrī was a strong supporter of the Jewish “Iraqi orientation” and refused to do anything that could adversely affect the status of the Jews in Iraq. In line with other Iraqi Jewish leaders, he rejected  Zionism and would not collaborate with Zionist organizations. When a call was issued in J…

Sha‘shū‘a, Salīm

(475 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
The Iraqi poet, writer, journalist, and jurist Salīm Murād Sha‘shū‘a was born in 1926 in Baghdad, where he was educated at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school, the Shammash School, and the Law College. He began writing and publishing poetry while practicing law as an attorney. In 1948, he started up  al-Murūj (The Valleys), an Arabic literary and social journal, but managed to publish only one issue. In 1950, he was imprisoned on the charge of spreading Zionist propaganda. The following year he emigrated to Israel.The poetry Sha‘shū‘a wrote in his new home was permeated with Zionist…

Isḥayyiq (Sehayeq), Malīḥa

(365 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
Iraqi writer Malīḥa Isḥayyiq (Sehayek) was born in Baghdad 1925 and educated in state schools. She worked as a nurse in the Mīr Ilyās Jewish hospital and joined the Iraqi Communist Party. Between 1951 and 1954 she published various items on literary themes in the journal al-Dunyā (The World) in Damascus; among her publications were open letters to prominent writers at the time, such as the Egyptian poet and scholar Zakī Mubārak (1892–1952) and the Iraqi poet ʿAbd al-Qādir Rashīd al-Nāṣirī (1920–1965). She also wrote one letter to the great …

Shā’ūl, Anwar  

(1,261 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
Anwar Shāʾūl(1904–1984) was an Iraqi poet, short story writer, playwright, journalist, lexicographer, and translator. His grandfather on his mother’s side was Hermann Rosenfeld, an Austrian tailor who settled in Baghdad in 1850 and became active in Jewish communal affairs, especially as a forceful advocate of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. On his father’s side, he was related to the distinguished Sassoon family, one member of which, Sheikh Sassoon ben Ṣāliḥ (1750–1830), was the nasi (head) of the Jewish community in Baghdad for almost forty years.Shāʾūl was born in Hilla …

Jewish Literary Society (Baghdad)

(279 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
The Jewish Literary Society in Baghdad (Ar. Jam‘iyya Adabiyya Isrā’īliyya), Iraq’s first Zionist organization, was founded on July 15, 1920. In the guise of a literary society, its mission was to promote the teaching of the Hebrew language and Jewish studies. The president of the new society, Salmān Reuven Ḥayya (1898?–1920), was a police officer; its secretary was Salmān Shīna (1898–1978). In August 1920, the society opened a library and club where lectures could be held. On November 19, 1920, it published the first issue of the literary weekly Yeshurun, half in Hebrew and half in…

al-Mullā (al-Baṣṣūn), Maryam

(266 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
Maryam al-Mullā (al-Baṣṣūn) was born in Baghdad in 1927 and educated in Iraqi public schools. She became a writer and between 1945 and 1951 she published short stories in Iraqi journals and newspapers such as al-Fatāt (The Young Girl), al-Siyāsa (Politics), and al-Muṣawwar (The Illustrated). After her emigration to Israel in 1973, with her husband, the journalist Salīm al-Baṣṣūn (1927–1995), she published in the local Arabic press, mostly in the governmental newspaper al-Anbāʾ (The News). Her best-known story was “Maʾsātuhu Mathal” (His Tragedy Became a Proverb) on …