Iraq was once home to one of the oldest, most long-standing Jewish communities—a community that had lived in the region since 580 BC and saw the rise and fall of many great civilizations. Yet with the ascension of Arab nationalism, this all changed—and in the 1940s, following the British WWII invasion and establishment of the Jewish state, Iraqi Jews were declared ‘stateless’ by their own government. They were left with no choice but to move to the only place where they could truly have citizenship—Israel.
Abe Chitayat speaks about his memories as a Jewish youth in Baghdad during this uncertain time — from the personal hardships and sacrifices that came along with being eldest of six in a family struggling to get by, to life amongst the tight-knit Jewish community that strived to maintain a semblance of normalcy, despite relentless intimidation and persecution.
He tells the story of the Iraqi Jews’ exodus, a lengthy and precarious process – one he nearly missed with a threat to his life. With antisemitism rearing its ugly head in the world again, it's never been more important for the generation of today to hear stories like Abe's. To know they exist.
It’s a story of sorrow, but also joy that came from the simplest of pleasures, and from merely being able to survive. And Abe recounts it all in vivid memory, as if it were just yesterday.
This is a story of perseverance and triumph. A man’s personal journey of no longer having to balance the delicate tightrope of life as the ‘other’, but finally being able to live amongst people that considered him ‘one of them’.
Directed by Eitan Chitayat
Filmed by Dan Sachar + Guy Lahav
Editing by Yuval Yefet
Add. editing by Adam Chitayat + Shelley Hermon
Interviewed by Avi Goldwasser
Portrait by Benjamin Loyseau
Site by natie Branding Agency
with N. Cozzolino, I. Pilato + T. Edelman
Music 'Plum Blossom' by Yusef Lateef
Permission generously granted by Estate of Yusef Lateef