Kurdistani Jewish in Israel

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Kurds are one of the oldest and largest ethnic groups in the Middle East. For hundreds of years, they have called an area encompassing parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Armenia home. They have never achieved a state of their own. Instead, distinctive Kurdish communities have maintained Kurdish culture and language in a number of countries, often in the face of hatred and violence from neighboring ethnic groups and central governments.
Many Jewish communities in Kurdish lands claim they have lived there for over 2,500 years, ever since the Jews of the northern kingdom of Israel were sent into exile there. The Old Testament records in 2 Kings 15:17-22 that Hoshea became the last king of Israel and that the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III made him pay tribute to him. After Tiglath-pileser died (727), 2 Kings 17:1-6 Hoshea revolted against the new Assyrian king, Shalmaneser, who then invaded Israel taking Hoshea prisoner, and tried to take the city of Samaria. Eventually, "the king of Assyria (Sargon II) captured Samaria (722 BC) and exiled Israel to Assyria. He settled them in Halah and Habor (northern Syria today), by the Gozan River (tributary of the Euphrates River), and in the cities of Media (North-Western Iran today) (Kings II, 17:1-6). These sites are currently listed within the Kurdish region.
Between 1949 and 1952, a series of airlifts, called "Operation Ezra and Nehemiah" brought over 120,000 the Jewish Kurds to Israel, mainly from Iraq. The majority of the Kurdish Jews today define themselves as Israeli and have adopted Hebrew as their primary language. Many of the older Kurdish Jews continue to speak Kurdish dialects in accordance with the region they came from in Kurdistan. The Kurdit Jews in Israel maintain a strong, cultural loyalty to their homeland. Life was hard for many of the Kurdish immigrants who came to Israel, as they were farmers accustomed to rural life and had to adjust to urban life.
The largest concentration of Kurdit Jews live in the Katamonim neighborhood located in south Jerusalem where they have their own synagogues and schools.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Currently there are over thirty agriculture settlements that have been started by Jewish Kurds, though many also have urban jobs. Many worked in construction, selling produce and a number opened up Kurdish restaurants which remain popular among the Jewish people in Jerusalem. Often when people go to a Kurdish restaurants, they are warmly greeted by the people who work there. It is not unusually to hear Kurdish music and singing in the background. New customers are introduced to many types of succulent Kurdish dishes. Kurdish Jewish women are known for keeping wonderful recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Siske, is a favored Kurdish pastry stuffed with beef and vegetables. The people feel that food gives them an opportunity to connect with others and make friends. One Kurdish Jewish man named his restaurant in Jerusalem Ishtabach. To the Kurds the name means "praise the lord"; and a man (ish) who cooks (tabach).
The younger Kurdit Jews have pursued education and work in areas of medicine, computer software and business. Kurdit Jews people keep close family connections. An important part of Kurdish-Jewish life is found in their celebration of Saharane (sahar in Kurdish means–the crescent moon or spring moon). This is a festival that takes place over a few days usually at the closure of Passover. Traditionally it marks the end of winter and the coming of spring. Just as they did in their historic homeland, Kurdish communities gather and spend their days enjoying each other, singing, dancing and eating their traditional foods. Known for their warm hospitality, they invite guests to join them.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Many Kurdit Jews in Israel firmly acknowledge their Jewish heritage in accordance with the readings of the Torah. They participate in Talmud, Mishnah and Jewish High Holidays. Their love of music is expressed in their worship through the chanting of parts of the Old Testament, particularly the Psalms through a unique melodic style. Often the biblical songs are sung in Aramaic which was the traditional written language of their Old Testament scripture. Although they acknowledge their Jewish identity many Kurdish-Israeli's are by nature secular. The younger generation are more concerned with education, jobs and succeeding financially.

What Are Their Needs?

They are hard workers who tend to place importance on secular achievement. They need messianic believers to present God's word to them through the understanding of their Messiah Jesus, who was Jewish and fulfilled the prophecies so people would have his guidance in life, peace and salvation.

Prayer Points

Pray the gospel will reach the Kurdit Jews people in Israel through Christian radio, friendships, music, and Messianic Jewish believers.
Pray that these people will be open to asking questions related to the gospel through caring Christian believers reaching out to them. May their questions and doubts be erased through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Pray that the Kurdit Jews will understand that they can accept Jesus without denying their Jewish identity.
Pray for a movement to Christ among this Kurdit Jews.

Scripture Prayers for the Jewish, Kurdistani in Israel.


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Jewish, Kurdistani
People Name in Country Jewish, Kurdistani
Natural Name Kurdistani Jewish
Pronunciation kur-dis-TAH-nee joo
Alternate Names Azerbaijani Jewish; Hula Hula; Kurdim; Kurdistani Jew
Population this Country 5,400
Population all Countries 5,800
Total Countries 2
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 12148
ROP3 Code 103906
ROP25 Code 303368
ROP25 Name Jewish
Country Israel
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Country Israel
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked

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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Religion Subdivision: Judaism
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
100.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Hulaula (5,400 speakers)
Language Code huy   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Unknown
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Hulaula (5,400 speakers)
Language Code huy   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Hulaula

Primary Language:  Hulaula

Bible Translation Status:  Unspecified

Resource Type Resource Name Source
None reported  
Photo Source Anonymous 
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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