Tangier Cemetery, Morocco


Over a million Jews once lived in the area spanning from synagogues on the edge of the Sahara desert in Morocco to abandoned Jewish fortresses in Saudi Arabia and the traditional shrines of Biblical personalities in the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Iran. The profound Jewish imprint on the Middle East could be experienced in major cities and diffuse villages until the mass exodus of Jews from most countries in the region after 1948. Now, decades later, synagogues, schools, cemeteries, and other structures left behind are decaying or being destroyed (e.g., ISIS’s demolition of the purported Tomb of Jonah at Mosul), and political strife has stymied visiting, no less preserving, thousands of sites. Future generations are losing tangible connections to communities that once contributed significantly both to Jewish and world culture. In what is the heartland of Jewish history, the sites and stories that shaped Jewish identity risk being forever lost.