Last month, Iraqi forces at last retook Jonah's tomb in Mosul from Islamic State (ISIS/ Da'esh). But they found only ruins. Article by Hannah Lynch in the Kurdish medium Rudaw (with thanks: Boruch):
The ruins of the Nebi Yunis mosque in Mosul (photo: Rudaw)
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq was once home to a vibrant Jewish
community and many Jewish sites are found in the city of Mosul. What
happened to these sites under ISIS is yet to be known, but an American
rabbi who has spent time in Mosul is praying that these sites that
reflect Iraq’s diverse history can be saved.
On Monday, Iraqi forces battling to retake Mosul liberated the tomb of
the prophet Jonah, the Nabi Younis Mosque, which was first built as a
synagogue and then was an Assyrian church before being converted into
Jonah, who preached to the people of Nineveh, present day Mosul, after
spending three days in the belly of a whale for disobeying God’s
command, is an important prophet in all three Abrahamic religions and
the people of Mosul valued and protected the site of his tomb for
generations. Until that is, ISIS militants blew it up on July 24, 2014
as part of their campaign to destroy sites they deemed idolatrous.
When a Rudaw TV crew entered the site the day Iraqi forces took control of it, they found only ruins.
The Jewish history of the site was recounted to Rabbi Carlos C. Huerta, a
retired US army chaplain, when he was based in Mosul in 2003 as a
member of the 101st Airborne Division.
“I was told by an old Christian… that before it was a Mosque it was a Synagogue,” Huerta recounted to Rudaw English via email.
“He told me that the Jews recognized it as the place where the Prophet
Jonah was buried. They built a synagogue around his grave as in the
Jewish tradition, like the Christian, honoring the dead with a place of
worship was considered important both to keep the memory of the
righteous alive but to also inspire the living to continue their mission
of justice and righteousness. When Islam came to Iraq, as the Prophet
Jonah is mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, they felt that they should
appropriate the Synagogue as he was an important Prophet for them.”
Huerta was the first rabbi in some 50 years to read the story of Jonah
to his congregation of soldiers in the place where the tale had played
out and is grateful for the care the people of Mosul took of his tomb.
Read article in full
ISIS destroys Jonah's tomb (with thanks: Malca)