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Bethanure, also known as Beth Tanura (Aramaic: בית תנורא‎) and Bar Tanura (Aramaic: באר תנורא‎), was a Jewish and now Assyrian populated village located in the Barwari region in Duhok Governorate, Iraqi Kurdistan.


The town was inhabited by Jews which claimed that their ancestors founded it after their return from Babylon, although many documents shows that the village existed in pre-Jewish era as an Assyrian pagan village: Judaism probably became the village's religion in the first centuries BC or AD. Economically speaking, the villagers supported themselves through manual labor and agriculture, and in 1893 the community was pillaged by Kurds from the mountains, who killed two Jews and wounded others. The remainder fled to the neighbouring villages, and did not dare return to their homes until assured of the protection of the Vali of Mosul, which they secured through a letter from Moses ha-Levi, chief rabbi of Turkey.[1]

The population of Beth Tanura has declined and even by the 1900s it was still smaller than in the centuries before because of massacres led by Kurds against the village's population. However, The village population grew after the Assyrian genocide, when many Tyari-Assyrians from the Hakkari mountains to the north in Turkey settled in the village. The Assyrian population was almost equal in numbers to the Jewish one, however the Jewish population remained a majority and the farmlands remained under Jewish ownership up until 1951, when the 17 Jewish families that remained, left en masse to Israel. After the exodus of the Iraqi Jews, Beth Tanura became a Christian village until Saddam's campaign against the Kurds, which led to the exodus of many Assyrians from the area. The Iraqi army destroyed the village in 1971, and destroyed the ancient houses that were mostly built by the original Jewish population.


The local dialect, known as the Jewish Neo-Aramaic dialect of Betanure, is among the rarest and most seriously endangered varieties of neo-Aramaic spoken at the present time.[2]

See also[edit]