By Tim Newark, Angus McBride

ISBN-10: 9623616813

ISBN-13: 9789623616812

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He went first to Morocco, then to Europe, and finally to New York. Having already learned the goldsmith trade from his grandfather, Majid apprenticed himself to Jewish Hasidic gold and diamond specialists in Brooklyn. He stayed for five years before he took the bus across the country to San Diego. 26 Majid Arabi Al-Khamisi, the goldsmith, San Diego. Photo by Jesse Buckley. Shafia Abbas Amara, Majid Arabi Al-Khamisi, and Lamea Abbas Amara. Photo by Jesse Buckley. Beginnings From Iraq to California: Grains of Musk 27 He loved being with the Hasidim.

Several years ago, I sat in his living room outside of Stockholm, and we talked about the eternal question of Mandaean identity: Are the Mandaeans Jewish, or what? He says he will tell me what happened to him recently because he wants to know whether I think he reacted correctly. He begins, “You know that I work for a large bank, designing computer software. At lunch time, we line up for our food trays. ’” Here Issam pauses briefly, making a face at the very thought of Swedish sausage, with its unspecified, unsavory contents.

To the other person but would add the word Mandai at the end of the sentence. If the guest would catch the word, it would mean that he is one of yours—if not, he would have concluded that you just garbled your words a bit. Lamea tells me that her children were registered as Muslims, for protection. “We did not want them to go through the discrimination that we experienced,” she says. Before 1958, Iraq had a strict quota system regarding access to higher education for minorities. The Mandaeans, being perhaps 2 percent of the population, suffered under these conditions.

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