This book chronicles the 1950 exodus of the Iraqi Jews that was sparked by a heroic young woman who became known from Baghdad to Jerusalem as "The Mother of the Pound." Her story provided the inspiration for this book, which explores the story of the Jews of Iraq, their deep historical roots, their fate in the twentieth century and their defining traditions and spiritual values. To that story, the author brings both intimate knowledge and unique insights gained in nearly three decades as a practicing psychiatrist educated in Lebanon, Israel and the US. Told in a personal and engaging fashion, the book provides a panoramic picture of this segment of the Jewish Diaspora. The author's psychological perspective gives new insight into the evolution of culture and issues of religion and spiritual life. Finally, the book emphasizes the importance of pride in heritage and offers inspiration and direction for all who confront discrimination and prejudice today.
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Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, David Kazzaz attended college and medical school at the American University in Beirut in the 1940s. After marrying his wife Louise in Israel in 1950, he pursued postdoctoral training in neurology at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital before moving to the United States to complete a psychiatric residency at the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver. In 1959, Kazzaz and his young family returned to Israel after he was asked to institute a pilot community mental health program for the Israeli Department of Mental Health. In 1962, the family settled permanently in Denver, where Kazzaz practiced psychiatry for 27 years. Now retired from practice, he is the director of Project Pride, an organization he created in 1989 with the sponsorship of the Anti-Defamation League and the Central Agency for Jewish Education. In 1995, he founded the Hispano-Crypto-Jewish Resource Center, housed at the University of Denver, which provides assistance to Hispanics who wish to trace their Jewish family roots.Review:
" 'Mother of the Pound' is a fascinating tale of survival and triumph. Dr. Kazzaz's retelling of the experience of the Iraqi Jewish community, combined with his insights into the psychology of Jewish survival, makes for an important contribution to our literature." -- Abraham H. Foxman National Director, Anti-Defamation League
"Reflections, searching and affirmation weave through this narrative. The reader walks and runs through experiences of hope and despair, anger and gratitude, love and hate. The pages of this book intertwine the depiction of the 1950s Baghdad and Beirut, coupled with thoughts about the biblical stories from David to the Maccabees, and migration to the new lands of modern Israel and the mountains of Colorado. David Kazzaz gently and persuasively urges us -- irrespective of our own religious value systems -- to act out of our affirmations of God and self. This book, in its demonstration of the beauty of Judaism, requires us to seek the potential imbedded in every religion, family and nation." -- Kent Howard Richards, Executive Director, Professor of Old Testament, Society of Biblical Literature
"Tapping little known sources and sharing personal recollections, David Kazzaz portrays the absorbing history and rich cultural and religious legacy of the Jews of Iraq, a community that existed from biblical days until the mid-twentieth century." -- Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Chair, Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University
"This is a story well worth remembering and telling. I hope many people will read it." -- Rabbi Harold Kushner Author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
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