Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

Dates: Friday, November 8, 2013 - Sunday, January 5, 2014

Location: Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery, Washington, DC

In the spring of 2003, just days after Coalition forces took over Baghdad, 16 American soldiers assigned to search for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons entered Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence building. In the basement, under four feet of water, they found thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq – materials that had come from synagogues and Jewish organizations in Baghdad.

Witness the dramatic recovery of these records and learn about the National Archives’ ongoing work in support of U.S. Government efforts to preserve them for future generations.

“Discovery and Recovery” features 24 recovered items and a behind-the-scenes video of the fascinating and painstaking preservation process.

The exhibit, which marks the first time these items have been shown publicly, is presented in English and Arabic. The broader collection includes more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic, and English, dating from 1540 to the 1970s, providing a tangible link to the Jewish community of Iraq, now dispersed throughout the world.

The records are freely available to all online as they are digitized and catalogued through the assistance of the U.S. Department of State, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Center for Jewish History.