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The Economic Position Of The Jews

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Chapter Summary

The Jews of Kurdistan participated in the local economy. Both urban and rural Jews paid taxes and dues to the authorities and the tribal chieftains under whose patronage they lived. During the 19th century, two Jewish travelers have shed light on the economic position of Jewish communities in Kurdistan. In 1826-1827, David D'Beth Hillel ranked the communities he visited with a plain yardstick. Kurdish Jews were employed mainly in three types of occupations: agriculture-mostly but not only in rural villages; handicraft-in both village and urban centers; and commerce-mostly in urban centers. Hillel argued that commerce was the most common trade amongst the Jews in Amadiya, Sulaimaniya and Zakho. The two most important obligations of the Jews concerning their tribal chieftains were the dues paid to the agha and the occasional zebara, the customary communal labor committed by the villagers on behalf of their agha, in his estates or fields.

Keywords: chieftains; David D'Beth Hillel; economic position; Jews; Kurdistan



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