Thursday, March 24, 2011

'Nimrod' and 'Nimrodi' were common Jewish-Iraqi Personal Names and Surnames


I've blogged before on the usage of the name 'Nimrod' among Jews here. Nimrod is depicted in the Bible as a particularly evil idolatrous Mesopotamian King, making it a peculiar (if not surprising) choice for religious and deeply traditional Mizrahi Jews (as well as modern-day Assyrian Christians, where I'm told, the name is popular as well).

My friend S. also blogged about this here

S. opines:

One of the irksome slanders some highly frummer-than-thou anti-Zionist Jews proclaim about Israelis is that their language and names are Jewishly illegitimate. Oft-mentioned is a legendary Israeli named Nimrod

A recent article on popular Israeli given names in the MAARIV Newspaper in Israel also pointed out this curiosity here:

המסורת היהודית הטילה הגבלות רבות על שמות שמותר לתת לילדים. כריבוי ההגבלות, ריבוי ההיתרים והחריגים. הקבוצה האסורה איסור מוחלט, כפי שסיפר החוקר חיים ריבלין, היא קבוצת הרשעים, אויבי העם היהודי, ועל כך נאמר במדרש: "וכי יקרא אדם שם בנו פרעה, או סיסרא, או סנחריב?". ברשימת משרד הפנים של שמות שאסור לאשרם נמצאים אדולף היטלר, אוסמה בן לאדן, ודמות אקטואלית השבוע: המן. עם זאת, רשעים שונים זוכים להקלות. למשל, ישמעאל, שעשה תשובה. יש הסכמה שנמרוד, עשיו, עמלק ודואג היו רשעים, אבל נמרוד הוא כידוע שם שניתן לילדים ישראלים לא מעטים, כהתרסה למסורת היהודית.

Partial translation: Jewish tradition sets limits on the types of names permissible for Jewish children. A group of names that sit "beyond the pale" and are in fact ILLEGAL ACCORDING TO ISRAELI LAW are: Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden and Haman (!). Despite this, a more liberal approach is applied to names like Ishamel (who tradition has it, repented toward the end of his life). Although the historical figures of Nimrod, Esau, Amalek and Doeg were wicked men (at least as depicted in the Bible), Nimrod remains a very popular name among contemporary Israelis in opposition to Jewish tradition.

Looks like the editor over at MAARIV could have delved a little bit more into the history of this name among Jews, before jumping to his conclusion...

Yesterday I came across another instance of the name; in the year 1969, 14 Iraqis, nine of them Jews, were falsely accused of spying for Israel by the Baath regime under Saddam Hussein. All of them were hanged in the public square. One of the unfortunate victims was a Jew by the name of Yaaqov (George) Nimrodi (transliterated into Arabic as
Yacoub Gourji Namerdi). The names of the 9 Jews are now inscribed on a stone monument (see photo) in the Israeli city of Or Yehuda, where many Iraqi Jews settled upon their arrival in the holy land

Mr. Dangoor (himself an Iraqi-Jewish expat living in London) has more details on the hangings here


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