In March, 1918, Friday after-noon on the Passover week, Binyamin Mar-Shimun has arrived to a meeting called by the Kurd leader Simko.
The tension between the two parties – the Kurds and the Assyrians, was the subject of discussion in this historical meeting in a villa, at the suburbs of Kohne-Shahir (the old city of Salmas, in Salmas district, northern Persia, Persian Azerbaijan).
The meeting between the two did not go as planned, not for Mar-Shimun. The armed Kurds hidden on the surrounding rooftops opened fire as the meeting ended, and the Christian delegation was on its way, a few steps away from the carriage. Mar Shimun, with over 100 of his men, was shot dead. One of the only two Assyrians who fled the place was Daud Mar-Shimun, Binyamin\’s brother, who patrolled around at the time of the shooting.
The murder of Mar-Shimun was the spark which ignited a killing spree, war and bloodshed. Between the two enemies was, unfortunately, the small Jewish community of the Nash Didan. The Assyrians swore that they will erase any living in the village where their leader died, and the Jews of Kohne-Shahir who survived, spread into refugee camps all over the district. Many months later, after the ottomans arrived and the Assyrians retreated, the Jews started to return to their homes and villages, including Salmas (Kohne-Shahir), Bashkale and Gavar (Today\’s Yuksekova).
The killing of the Jewish community of Salmas was avoided, among other reasons, by a meeting between Shimon, a local Jew, and Daud Mar-Shimun, the murdered patriarch\’s brother. Shimon (like any Nash Didan) and the Assyrians spoke a very close dialect of new eastern Aramaic; we call Lishan-Didan (our language).
Today, more than 90 years after those events occur, an email connection was created between me (the grandson of the nephew of that Shimon) and the Mar-Shimun family in the United States. After a few months of email exchange, and the good will of Arabella Mar-Shimun, I have received through the main two books sent from the US, who tell the story of Binyamin Mar-Shimun and the Mar Shimun family history.
I know that the research of the Nash Didan\’s history is not the main concern of many here, in Israel, and it is hard to find people interested, or researching the community\’s history. For me, this connection with the Mar-Shimuns gets me a little bit closer to my family\’s roots and the community\’s history. I hope I will manage to bring here some of the above email exchange later.