January 13, 2009 Ariel Sabar To Discuss New Book on the Jews of Kurdish Iraq on Feb. 11 at the Library of Congress

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022

Yona Sabar was born in a mud hut in the remote Kurdish region of Northern Iraq. Protected by towering mountains, the Jews of Zakho lived peacefully among Muslims and Christians for hundreds of years. But in the late 1940s, the outside world came crashing in, and Yona would be the last boy in Zakho to become a bar mitzvah. Yona’s son Ariel Sabar will discuss his new book, “My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq,” at the Library of Congress at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 11, in the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room, located on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Hebraic and Near East Sections of the African and Middle Eastern Division. In “My Father’s Paradise,” Sabar retraces his father’s footsteps as part of a mass exodus of 120,000 Jews from Iraq to Israel. He brings to life the eccentric characters, extraordinary determination and fascinating historical odyssey of the Kurdish Jews. Father and son travel to today’s war-torn Iraq in a quest to rediscover a forgotten land. Ariel Sabar is an award-winning former staff writer for the Baltimore Sun and the Providence Journal. He covered the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign for the Christian Science Monitor. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Monthly, Mother Jones, Moment, Christianity Today and other publications. Yona Sabar is a professor of Near Eastern languages at the University of California, Los Angeles and one of the world’s most sought-after experts on the Aramaic language. Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its Web site at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at myLOC.gov. The Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division (www.loc.gov/rr/amed/) is the center for the study of some 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East to Central Asia. The division’s Hebraic Section is one of the world’s foremost centers for the study of Hebrew and Yiddish materials.


PR 09-07
ISSN 0731-3527