My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq - Ariel Sabar Finished - wow! What can I say? I guess first of all I want to (((HUG))) GR fro existing, for showing me all these MARVELOUS books!!!! OK, about the book. Well, how does the relationship between father and son(author) end up. It ends up right where I wanted it to endup, but you will have to read the book to find this out! It is summed up in the first three sentences on page 322 in the last chapter. Here is one last interesting quote: "There is a counterpoint to the familiar immigrant story of opportunities won: It is the story, less often told, of cultures lost." Yes cultures are at least watered-down, but if we are aware of this danger maybe we can take steps to help preserve cultures. Furthermore, I believe that we pass on to our children and they to their own children the cultures of our ancestors. Family customs have a tendancy to stick, although perhaps not in exactly the original form. This is evident in the author's family, in mine too and I think in all families where they have emigrated to a new land. I think for many of us we learn to like some things about the new country and also like other things about the country we have left. We pass on these memories to our children. How horrible the world would be it it lacked diversity. What should I read now....... So exciting to start a new book!

Through page 272: I MUST add this too! Father and son are at Cambridge taking part at a high level academic conference on the Neo-Aramaic Language. The author MUST be beginning to see the the wonderful character of his father. His father is one of the few of academia who can talk so we all understand, who can make us laugh and feel the passion for a subject. Who brings all the scientific gibberish back to plain, straight, clear understandable words that ALL understand.

Through page 269: What is it like to go back to a place where you grew up? Not many of us live in the same place all our lives, so this is a question that speaks to us all. I have found that the man-made things, yes they change. Nevertheless you recognize the "land". The hills the trees. Somehow the landscape remains and you can reconnect. This is easier in the country rather than in urban areas where everything is practically gone, but teeny bits remain even there. Also, is going back a disappointment? Another topic in this part of the book concerns the author's attempt to reconnect with his father. Quite simply their relationship was not good at all. They were up to that point very different people. When the author had a son himself he started understanding what it is like - "to be a father", to love a child irregardless of differences. Maybe it is pure biology, but you just do love your children. All of them, and they too are usually very different from eachother! That is where I am now. I do not know where this will end up for these two people, the author and his father.

Through page 209: Studying at Yale the author very well captures how it must feel to fall into east coast American ivy league life, having first grown up in a a remote Kurdish village. Even life in bustling Jerusalem has no comparison to life at Yale. I have read lots of immigrant memoirs, but this is one of the best, something I clearly recognized.

Through page 176: The family emigrates to Israel. An analysis of the Jewish melting-pot is fascinating:

"Itzhak Ben-Zvi and David Ben-Gurion were sometimes called 'the twins'....Ben-Gurion as Prime Minister, Ben-Zvi as President. Yet, on the question of Israel's Middle Eastern immigrants, they never saw eye to eye. To Ben-Gurion Israel was a melting-pot. ....Ben Zvi was perhaps the only man in Israel with the stripes to challenge the melting-pot theory....For Ben-Zvi, the truth about Jews' common past could best be glimpsed, not through an erasure of differences, but through the light refracted by its many subcultures."

Or on page 69 and 70 about the great Muslim, Kurdish warrior general Saladin, a champion of jihad born in Tikrit 1138, who repelled the invasion of King Richard the Lionhearted and his Crusaders:

"Yet Saladin is remembered today less for his military cunning than his chivalry. When Richard's horse was killed, Saladin sent two replacements. When Richard fell ill after his victory at Jaffa, Saladin sent a sorbet of fruit and snow to cool his rival's fever. Christian crusaders had slaughtered thousands of Muslim prisoners, but after his victory, Saladin let Christians exit Jerusalem unmolested."

There is so much here of interest! Religious extremism was rare. Is that the key difference? History moves in cycles, but can't we lessen the waves' peaks and troughs?

Through page 69: I love this, so I am sharing a bit with you. Lots of fascinating history dating from 2700 years ago up to what happened to Irag in WW1 and during WW2. Absolutely fascinating. If history isn't your thing it is still marvelous b/c family life in the isolated mountain village of Zakno constitutes the dominant thread. There are photos of the people and the place and a map - hurrah for books with maps, although it is a bit rudimentary. I suck up hearing about how the Jews, Christians and Muslims ENJOYED eachother's company:

"Seclusion (in the isolated mountain village) bred fraternity: Muslim, Jew and Christian suffered alike through the region's cruel cycles of flood, famine and Kurdish tribal bloodshed. They prospered alike when the soil yielded bumper crops of wheat, gall nuts and fragrant tobacco. In important ways they were Kurds first and Muslims, Christians and Jews second. Muslims sent Jews bread and milk as gifts after Passover. They ate matzoh, which they called "holiday bread" as a delicacy. They sent their Jewish neighbors hot tea during the Sabbath, when Jews were forbidden to light fires. Some Muslims even asked the synagogue to wake them early in the days before Yom Kippur . They viewed early rising on Jewish days of penitence as bringing good luck. And the Jews paid back the respect, forgoing cigarettes , for instance, during the holy month of Ramadan , when Muslims may not smoke."

Can't we learn from this something? In Bagdad, at this time, riots and fighting between Muslims and Jews were violent and constant.

Through page 28: I am totally loving this. Although predominantly non-fiction, the suthor is a true story teller. His grandfather is described, when he is first presented to his future bride who is only 13, as: "a short man in a shalla u-shappiksa of such brightly colored stripes that Miryam had to resist twin impulses - the first to giggle, the second to flee. The traditional billowy trousers and short sheep's-wool jacket raiated every color of the rainbow. Someone, it seemed, had gotten a little carried away in Mr. Beh Sabagha's dye shop."

The factual information about the almost dead language Aramaic is fascinating. The book is both about this language and the author's family.