Modernization and Identity among Iraqi Jews from the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Mid-Twentieth Century

Moshe Gat

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The life of the Jewish community in Iraq may be divided into three periods serving as a framework for its identity and the modernization processes it has undergone: The precolonial period, during which Jews lived under the Ottoman Empire's Muslim rule; the colonial period, or Mandatory Iraq under British rule, which lasted a mere ten years between 1922 and 1932; and the period during which Iraq became an independent state from 1932 onwards - a period which led to the liquidation of the Jewish community, most members of which had immigrated to Israel between 1951 and 1952. The present article aims to examine the issues of the community's national religious identity considering the modernization processes. Was this distinctiveness put to the test over the various periods of time? Did Jews consider divorcing from their religious heritage or identity? Did they experience "slavery within liberty,"to use the phrase coined by Ahad Ha'am? A further question is that of their identity upon immigrating to Israel in the early 1950s.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)127-142
    Number of pages16
    JournalModern Judaism
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1 May 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2022 The Author(s).


    • Iraq-Ethnic Relations
    • Iraq-History
    • Iraqi Jews-History
    • Iraqi Jews-Modernization and Identity
    • Israel-Immigration


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