Shavuot in The Shadow of Isis

dscn0311-copy-1433432006An interesting article in today’s Forward by friend Benjamin Kweskin, who used to plan programming at the Savannah JEA few years back and has moved on to far more exotic adventures:

“Praying at a Jewish Tomb in the Shadow of Isis” recounts his recent trip to the ancient Kurdish town of Al-Qosh to celebrate Shavuot, the holiday that commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai and usually celebrated by eating delicious dairy and praying all night long.

Ben decided to up the ante by visiting an 2500 year-old synagogue in a mountaintop village thrillingly close to ISIS HQ:

This would be my fifth visit to the shrine of Nahum, a prophet of the Israelite exile who famously predicted the destruction of Nineveh, the Assyrian Empire’s mighty capital, in the seventh-century B.C.E….Each time I walk around in this dilapidated structure I graze my fingers over the ancient stones and pillars, and at once I am transported to a different time, when Kurdish Jews still lived here, prior to Israel’s establishment in 1948.

On this most recent pilgrimage to the synagogue, a small part of me was nervous, but not due to fear; I felt that something was pulling me to go to the synagogue on Shavuot and reaffirm some semblance of a Jewish presence in a very Jewish place, 30 miles from the Islamic State — a symbolic act of spiritual resistance.

Read the whole article here.

Fascinating stuff from a brave scholar–though I think I’ll stick with cheesecake and comfortable couches for Shavuot!

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