MY FATHER'S PAST: A Son's search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq

Sabar, Ariel.

Published by Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2008. dj
ISBN 10: 1565124901 / ISBN 13: 9781565124905
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SIGNED hardcover first edition - First printing. Winner of the National Book Critics Award for Autobiography: "When Ariel Sabar was growing up in California during the 1980s, the generational divide between he and his immigrant father was strained to the breaking point. . . . his teen-age self could find no sympathy for a dad who had Òsublimated homesickness into a career.Ó [but] after his own son was born in 2002, his perspective about his own heritage changed, and he began the quest to understand his fatherÕs life and the culture Yona Sabar was struggling to preserve. The upshot is an book that operates on several levels: as the story of the relationship between father and son, as testimony to a man with a mission, and as the portrait of a nearly forgotten people. . . an alternate view of Iraq and its history." SIGNED on the title page. Bibliography. 332 pp. Fine in fine dust jacket (a new copy.). Bookseller Inventory #

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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.

From the Inside Flap: "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

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Bibliographic Details

Title: MY FATHER'S PAST: A Son's search for His ...
Publisher: Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2008. dj

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