My Father's Paradise
By Ariel Sabar
I am the keeper of my families stories. I am the guardian of it's honor. I am the defender of it's 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.
Opening line of My Father's Paradise. This is a very important line to Jews everywhere. I discovered My Father's Paradise a few years ago, only by accident. I understand many Jewish communities, use this book as a medium for bringing up discussion.
I always wanted to understand what happened to Jewish Iraq, and the Middle East. Especially during the United States invasion of Iraq. My brother is a photojournalist for the Military Times. But he never talked about it. It did not make sense to me that there were only a few Jews left and no synagouge. My Father's Paradise answered these questions that I have been wondering about.
Did you realize that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all lived in harmony at one time. Then something happened to change that.
I am going to give you a brief synopsis from the novel. But, also why I think you should read this book. I am going to give you a better book review on my Jewish book blog, at my other book blog, Bagels, Books, and Schmooze.
This part of history takes place during the 1930's, 1940's during WW2, when Yona's mother and father married. But, also the 3000 year history of the Middle East,and the language that was spoken in Iraq. Did you realize there are many different languages you must know to survive in Iraq.
There is Aramaic, then the Arab language as the spoken language when you are out mingling about, then the biblical language as well.
Aramaic is important to Yoni, This is how he was able to bring the Aramaic language to the United States, and become a renown Professor teaching Aramaic.It was important to him to keep his traditions and culture alive. Thanks to his son, he wants to keep the culture and traditions alive.
The reason that the culture and traditons of the Jewish Kurds continues was because the Kurdish territory was surrounded by mountains. Which isolated the people. That is why Christian, Jews, and Muslims were able to get along for thousands of years.
We first learn about Yoni's parents, how he looses his sister, and what happened to her. Then when Yoni was born. Israel became a independent state the other Middle East countries in the Middle East made living in their countries for Jews miserable. What transpired afterward many Jews in these countries made a mass exodus to Israel in early 1950.
But the dream of thbe Jewish state was not for Middle East Jews to mingle and change the countries culture. Their dream was for European Jewish culture to saturate Israel into a European Mecca. But that didn't happen. Instead there is a mix of Middle Eastern Jews and Ashkenazi Jews living in Israel.
Israeli Jewis treated Jewish Middle Eastern Jews like a sub species. I thought Jews everywhere would be happily welcomed, but that didn't happen.
The second half of the book is when Yona came to the United States. How he came and became a renown professor. What is was like coming to the United States, living here. How he's son saw he's father. Which was rather hard for Ariel.he saw it as a culture clash of Middle East meets L. A.
It was important for Yoni to pass on the tradition of Ariamaic, and the traditions of his forefathers.To pass this on, Ariel wrote this book in honor of his father. To pass on the traditions, history, memories, and culture of Zakho, Iraq to his children, and his children's children, L'dor V'dor.
When Ariel and his father, and family returned to Israel for a visit to his grandparents. It felt like it was full circle. His Grandmother waited to die when the entire family came to visit. It brought tears to my eyes.
My Father's Paradise is a wonderful book for discussion. I can now, understand why it was chosen for many synagouges for community reads. There is so much to talk about. The writing is prolific, and beautifully written. You can tell he writes from the heart, and written with love to his father, Yona Sabar. I am sorry it took so long to review. It was given to me by Aloquin books for review.
Since I didn't tell you in the beginning, My Father's Paradise was written by Yoni's son Ariel Sabar. He is a renown journalists for many periodicals such as the Baltimore Sun, and Christian Monitor, and many others.
You can listen and watch Ariel at his website. There are plenty of resources to watch and listen to. There are also discussion questions at the back of his book. Also a conversation with him as well.