Frank Iny School; Baghdad, Iraq

Frank Iny School at Baghdad, Iraq

The Frank Iny School was built in Baghdad, Iraq during the 1940s in order to educate the many Jewish children who remained in Iraq after the taskeet. Frank Iny, after whom the school was named, constructed this school which went on to serve hundreds of Jewish children [1]. Former students of the Frank Iny School recall how the school’s policies changed over time due to the shifts in the Iraqi government. Since most of Iraq’s Jews fled the country in 1951 and the Iraqi monarchy fell in 1958, the few remaining Jews in the country felt pressure to guard their heritage as well as their lives. As such, the Frank Iny School, which had once had prominent and well-attended awards ceremonies and plays, became more discreet in order to avoid catching unwanted attention [2]. Although many Jewish schools had once operated in Iraq, often with the support of the local Jewish community, Iraqi government, or international Jewish organizations in Paris and London, these schools began to close in the 1940s. The Frank Iny School was thus the last Jewish school in Baghdad, but closed in 1973 [3].
Description
Baghdad was home to the largest Jewish community in Iraq possibly from as early as its founding in the eighth century. By 1908, the Jews of Baghdad numbered around 53,000, about a third of Baghdad’s total population, and lived in many quarters–including al-Tawrat, Tahat it-Takyah, Abu Saifan, and Suq Hannun. Although Jews were involved in local politics, new tensions began to rise between Jews and Muslims–leading to an anti-Jewish riot on October 15, 1908–and World War I forced many Jews to flee the city. In 1948, the Jewish community in Baghdad numbered around 77,000; however, the Jewish community began to fear life in Baghdad after the Farhūd, a pogrom which occured on June 1, 1941, left 130 Jews killed and millions lost in property damange. The Farhūd inspired the growth of Zionism and Communism among a minority of Jews in Baghdad who felt increasingly disconnected from the Iraq state. Bombings throughout the 1950s further estranged the Jewish community, and by 1952 only about 6,000 Jews remained in Iraq. The Jewish community endured further violence throughout Saddam Husayn’s regime, and by 2003 the last synagogue in Baghdad had closed [4].

[1] Marina Benjamin, Last Days in Babylon: The Exile of Iraq’s Jews, the Story of My Family (New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2006), p. 218, accessed August, 6, 2014, http://books.google.com/books?id=JFHwzjYDjjwC&printsec.

[2] Ivy, “Such a pity it does not exist anymore,” Iraqi Jews Who Left Baghdad in the 1960’s and 1970’s, N.d., accessed August, 6, 2014, http://iraqijews.awardspace.com/frankiny.html.

[3] “Personal and Communal Life: School Records,” Preserving the Iraqi Jewish Archive, N.d., accessed August 6, 2014, http://www.ija.archives.gov/exhibit/personal-and-communal-life.

[4] Yaron Ayalon; Ariel I. Ahram, “Baghdad,” Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman, Brill Online, 2014, Reference, Wellesley College, 19 June 2014 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-jews-in-the-islamic-world/baghdad-SIM_000468&gt;.

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