Sad news out of Iraq. Doctor Thafer Fuad Elyahou, known as the 'Healer of the Poor" has died at the early age of 61 years of a heart attack. Doctor Elyahou specialized in orthopedic surgery and was well known and respected in Iraq for his special care and treatment of the poor and indigent in the country.
With his passing there only remain three Jews left in Iraq. When they are gone it will bring a close to a very long history of Jewish residence in the country which began with the Babylonian exile in 586 BCE, nearly 2,600 years ago.
My own family ancestry comes from Iraq on my mother's side so this news comes especially important to us. Since the birth of the State of Israel in 1948 CE the number of Jewish citizens in Iraq has been declining. With the war in Iraq beginning in 2003 CE that number began rapidly declining to its current number of only three Jews.
I have mixed feelings about the loss of a Jewish presence in Iraq, but being fully aware how we got there in the first place, under such harsh and sad circumstances, I also receive it with some joy, even though that joy is tempered by the death of such a tzadik as Doctor Elyahou.