Iraq Launches Project to Renovate Kever of Yechezkel Hanovi


yechezkel-hanovi-keverThe Iraqi government has launched a project to renovate the interior of Yechezkel Hanovi’s kever in the small town of Kifl, south of Baghdad, and the country’s Ministry for Tourism and Antiquities says it hopes to eventually repair and renovate other Jewish sites across the country. “The ministry is concerned with all Iraqi heritage, whether it is Christian or Jewish or from any other religion,” ministry spokesman Abdelzahra al-Talaqani told AFP. “The present plans do not include the synagogues in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Fallujah and other places because of lack of funding, but I think they will be included in future plans.”Iraqi Jewry was once one of the largest and most prominent Jewish communities in the Middle East.

But after Israel’s establishment, more than 120,000 Iraqi Jews moved to Israel in the 1950s in a clandestine operation dubbed Operation Ezra and Nechemiah.

Outside the kever of Yechezkel Hanovi – who went with the Yidden into Golus Bavel in the sixth century BC – is a 14th-century brick minaret, while the inside looks like a shul, with an old wooden aron kodesh that used to contain Sifrei Torah and the remains of a mechitza.

On the walls inside appears writing in Lashon Kodesh under a dome with medieval Islamic floral designs.

Until the mid-20th century, up to 5,000 Yidden used to visit the kever during Pesach. Muslims claim that the tomb is that of Dhul-Kifl, considered by some Muslims to be a prophet of Islam and by others to just be a righteous man mentioned in the Koran.

It had been protected by Saddam Hussein as a holy site.

The kevorim of the neviim Daniel, Ezra and Yonah are also believed to be located in Iraq.

{Yair Israel}