Thursday, September 16, 2021

Saving the Tomb of Nahum in Iraq

RESTORATION COMPLETED: Saving Iraq’s Tomb of Nahum, a secret mission resurrects Kurdistan’s Jewish past. With IS just miles away, a US army vet, 2 Israeli engineers and the head of a preservation group carried out an audacious plan to restore an ancient shrine of the biblical prophet (TAL SCHNEIDER, Times of Israel).
This is that story, told for the first time. It included sneaking Israelis into Iraq to assess the damage to the building’s roof and the best way to restore it. It also involved tapping into the deep knowledge of the Kurdish-Jewish community and its unofficial doyen Mordechai Zaken, a scholar who was instrumental in planning the restoration of the tomb and who passed away just a few months ago.

It features the people of Alqosh, who safeguarded the tomb after the area’s Jews fled the pogroms that followed the creation of the State of Israel, along with the tomb’s modern benefactors: a small group of donors, including oil and energy companies from Norway, the local Kurdish government, the US embassy in Iraq and a few private donors who raised $2 million.

Behind it all was ARCH, a nonprofit started by national security expert Cheryl Benard, an expert on national security and post-war rebuilding efforts. Benard, whose husband Zalmay Khalilzad has led US diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, was impressed in her travels around the world by the resilience and creativity of individuals and groups trying to safeguard their national treasures, even under the most trying circumstances.

The restoration was completed in the spring of 2021.

Read the whole story.

I have been following the fate of the (traditional) Tomb of Nahum in Alqosh (al-Qosh, Al Qosh, Al-Quosh) for years. For past posts, start here and follow the links.

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