Urmia, Iran

The city of Urmia (Urmieh, Urmiah, Rezaiyeh, אורמיה, اروميه), Iran (איראן, ايران). 


Urmia was home to a large ancient Jewish community which according to community tradition, dates to the 6th century BCE.

In the 19th century, the Jewish community suffered persecutions, leading many to leave the city. During World War I, the city fell to the Russian Army and in 1918 there were again persecutions and attacks against the Jews in the city. This led many additional Jews to flee the city to places West including Baghdad, Palestine, and America. The city has a cemetery dating back to the 16th century.

Historically, there were four synagogues in the city, the largest of which was called Molla Moshe. Another one was the Kalimiyan (Kalimyan) Synagogue. There was also a Jewish school, Etihad Mali, and an Otzar Hatorah school called Gangi-Danesh. There were two batei midrash (houses of study), the big and the little, which were adjacent to the big and little synagogues. A lady, Salbi, was the teacher in the small bet midrash in the 20th century.

In 1948, there were about 2,000 Jews in Urmia. 1,000 of them emigrated to Israel in 1951, 600 emigrated to Israel between 1957-1960, and the rest moved to other places in Iran.

The Jews of Urmia spoke Neo-Jewish Aramaic which they called Lishan Didan לישן דידן, השפה שלנו and they called themselves Nash Didan נשדידן, אנשים שלנו.

For livelihood, the Jews of Urmia were engaged primarily in the sale of fabric but there were also traveling salesmen who would go from village to village outside the city and sell things from the city, returning to Urmia once a week, generally on Friday before setting out again on Sunday.
















Urmia, Iran

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