Adventures of the only Jew in Oman ,Arabia
We hired a driver and for the past 12 hours we have traveled over 600 km across Oman to get a feeling for the country.
As Arabic hip hop blared from the stereo and sometimes feeling like i was in a scene from Homeland we bumped and rattled our way through the desert …In one strange village somewhere in the desert after a 3 hour ride we pulled over at a dusty intersection and noticed every store was a Ladies or gents tailor shop. They numbered about 20.
When i asked about this i was met with a shrug.
Here we waited for a 4 wheel drive to be transferred to which would take us deeper in the desert.
Getting kidnapped ran through some minds.
I thought about describing this day.
Our driver barely spoke english if he did at all and i didn’t know his name…
I thought i would just call him Achmed.
I thought to myself with a grin.everyone here is probably called Achmed.
I finally asked his name.
“Ahmed ” he said.
We came into a Bedoin encampment,stopping for Bedouin coffee with cardamon and dates and checking out the camels and 4 wheel driving over sand dunes and then to this amazing wadi ..Wadi Bani Khaled…an oasis
There we cooled off and some of us swam in the oasis ..In the headline today in the Jerusalem Post.
Oman foreign minister makes rare visit by Arab official to Temple Mount
Israeli officials unaware of Jerusalem trip in which Yusuf bin Alawi, on 3-day visit to the Palestinian Authority, prayed in Dome of the Rock mosque
While this was happening the only Jew in Oman was me .While their foreign minister was touring Jerusalem I was touring his country.
I don’t think so….
Early Jewish history in Oman
Some of the earliest Jewish history in what is now Oman is associated with the Biblical/Quranic figure Job/Iyov/Ayyoub. The Tomb of Job is located in Jabal Dohfar 45 miles from the port city of Salalah.
The Tomb of Job.
The subsequent, more documented Omani Jewish community was made famous by Ishaq bin Yahuda, a merchant who lived in the 9th century. Bin Yahuda lived in Sohar, and sailed for China between the years of 882 and 912 after an argument with a Jewish colleague, where he made a great fortune. He returned to Sohar and sailed for China again, but his ship was seized and bin Yahuda was murdered at the port of Sumatra.
Benjamin of Tudela visits Muscat
Map of the route.Oman lies at the historic intersection of Asian and African trade routes, as well as caravan routes to the eastern Mediterranean. It was colonized by Portugal, and then became an imperial power of its own, extending control (and its capital city) all the way to Zanzibar. Walking down an Omani street, you can hear Arabic, Swahili, English or Urdu
A historical journey to visit far-flung Jewish communities was undertaken by Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela from 1165 to 1173 that crossed and tracked some of the areas that are today in the geographic area of Oman. His trek began as a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He may have hoped to settle there, but there is controversy about the reasons for his travels. It has been suggested he may have had a commercial motive as well as a religious one. On the other hand, he may have intended to catalogue the Jewish communities on the route to the Holy Land so as to provide a guide to where hospitality may have been found for Jews travelling to the Holy Land.He took the “long road” stopping frequently, meeting people, visiting places, describing occupations and giving a demographic count of Jews in every town and country.
One of the known towns that Benjamin of Tudela reported as having a Jewish community was Muscat located in the area of Oman in the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula.
In the mid-19th century, the British Lieutenant James Raymond Wellsted documented the Jews of Muscat in his memoirs Travels in Arabia, vol. 1. He mentions that there are “a few Jews in Muskat (sic), who mostly arrived there in 1828, being driven from Baghdad . . .by the cruelties and extortions of the Pacha Daud.” He also notes that Jews were not discriminated against at all in Oman, which was not the case in other Arab countries (they did not have to live in Ghettos, nor identify themselves as Jews, not walk in the road if a Muslim was walking on the same street, as was the case in Yemen). The Jews of Muscat were employed mostly in the making of silver ornaments, banking, and liquor sale. Despite the lack of persecution in Oman, the community is believed to have disappeared before 1900. During World War II, a Jewish American Army enlisted man, Emanuel Glick, encountered a small community of Omani Jews in Muscat, but this community consisted mostly of recent migrants from Yemen.In the year 1948 there was a recorded Jewish Population of 5,000 People.The Jewish people living in Oman Mostly lived in Muscat and a few hundred in Ibri.The Jewish Population decreased during the Early 1950s when mass Emigration of Jews leaving the Arabian Peninsula occurred. Today the community no longer exists and most of the Jews that lived in Oman now live in Israel.