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Entries for August 2009

An AlQosh Man Struggles to Keep a Promise to an Old Friend
By Amer Hedow :: 122947 Views :: Article Rating :: Community & Culture, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Justice League

AlQosh, IRAQ – Abandoned since 1948 by native Iraqi Jews remains the tomb of the Jewish Prophet Nahum, a minor prophet in the Hebrew Bible.  Nahum wrote about the Assyrian Empire and the plains of Ninevah and prophesized the fall of Assyrian Kingdom for failing to turn from their pagan ways. 

Nahum was written after the fall of Israel in 722 BC but before the fall of Ninevah in 612. It is very likely, based upon the description of the relationship between Assyria and Judah, that Nahum prophesied in the early reign of King Josiah. Assyria was in the last days of its great power. They still controlled most of the Middle East. However, Babylon, Persia, and Egypt were all expanding in strength.

Literary enthusiasts would appreciate the irony that the tomb has been gently cared for and preserved by native Iraqi Christians.  After Iraqi Jews were forced to leave their country over half a century ago due to their religious difference with the prevailing Muslims of the region, Sami Jajouhana was asked to be the keeper of Nahum's tomb. He was handed the iron keys and an old leather ledger by his Jewish friend who left al-Qosh in 1948.  Jajouhana promised his dear friend to care for the sacred site for Jews.   

Beneath one of the few remaining standing synagogues in all of Iraq, Nahum's tomb is at risk.  For over half a century, few Jewish pilgrims have journeyed to the site.  Nonetheless, Jajouhana keeps his promise to his old friend, by recording the few who do tour the tomb or visit the synagogue and to care for their holy place.   Jajouhana has handled the landscaping, cleaned the vandalism that often plaques the monument, and managed repairs the best he can with the minuscule resources his family has in honor of his friendship and his friend’s convictions. 

The building is crumbling and in need of major repairs.  Most of the roof’s supporting beams and some stone walls have deteriorated. The Hebrew scripture is unmistakably visible on the interior walls—square, precisely carved, unobtrusive and definitively Hebrew.  All at risk to be forever lost except for this one man on a mission to rebuild. 

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