Aqrah Former Waterfall Synagogue
Akre (Aqra), as with many villages in Kurdistan, had a Jewish community about which little is known for long stretches of its history. Located not far from Barzan (to the north) and about 65 miles from Mosul (to the south), the Jewish community of Akre was at times substantial. The village is situated below the Zarvia Dj, or "Land of the Jews," a plateau in the mountains where the Jewish community would congregate during holidays, and which today is the scene of Kurdish New Year celebrations.
An early mention of this synagogue appears in the writings of the traveler Benjamin II who, in 1848, describes how Jewish woman would ritually immerse in the nearby river despite the risk of molestation. Relations between Jews and Kurds, however, seem to have more frequently been good, owning to the strong "local tradition of hospitality."
Continue reading at: http://www.jewishkurdistan.org/aqrah/
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Modern civilization began right here in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley. Also known as the Fertile Crescent or Mesopotamia, this is the place where, six thousand years ago, agriculture, writing and mathematics were brought into widespread use.
The term "Middle East" comes from the British navy, which used it to describe the countries on the trade route from Europe to India and China. Everything from Afghanistan to Morocco may possibly be classified as "middle eastern", depending on whom you ask -- and when.
Only a partial list of past Empires in the middle eastern territory includes Sumeria, Babylonia, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and the Roman Empire!
When northern Europe was still lurking about in slimy cold stone castles playing chess, the Middle East was enjoying the flowers of poetry, luxurious craftsmanship, music and literature. In fact, the Renaissance in Europe was partly inspired by stories brought back from the middle east by travelers along the trade route.
Strategic location, religious history and the world's largest supply of crude oil have kept the Middle East at the center of world activity for centuries. The saga continues.
Text by Steve Smith.