Nash Didan (Aramaic: our people) is the name Jews from the villages near the borders of Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan call themselves. It is believed that this Jewish community was established after the Babylonian exile, in the cities and villages of Urmiah, Salmas, Bashkale and Gavur in northern Persia and Eastern Ottoman Empire (now Turkey). The Nash Didan spoke Aramaic (Lishan Didan dialect), and during the 20th century most of them moved to Israel, and other countries.

Background

The community was founded, as tradition indicates, by Jews who fled to that area during the Babylonian Exile and did not return to Israel after the declaration issued by the emperor Cyrus II of Persia. Since the Jews were considered foreigners, they were not allowed to work the land, and hence most of them were merchants, not like other Jewish Kurdistan communities. They spoke a specific dialect of Aramaic, and also Farsi and Azeri Turkish. While the Arabs have started to speak Arabic after the Muslim occupation,the Jews (as the Assyrians) have kept their Aramaic language, And called it “Lishan Didan” (Aramaic: our language).The mountain borders of that area have helped keeping the culture, customs and language of the Nash Didan.

The Assyrian Aramaic is very similar to the Nash Didan dialect. During ancient times Aramaic was the official language in that area (Syria, Babylon and Persia). Jews who spoke Aramaic settled in Urmia and Villages close by in the end of the 8th century BC. That is proven by bronze, silver and gold archiological artifacts found with marked elements of the Jewish culture close by to Urmiah. In the Old Armenian cemetery there are gravestones from with Aramaic carvings on beside the symbols of Magen David and the Menorah (Lamp).

The Israeli Community

In 2005, about 14,000 of the Nash Didan lived in Israel. 

12 Comments

  1. Robin ( in Kurdish: Ro= Sun / Bin= To Bring...means The Person who brings the sun in Kurdish).

    The record stated above mentions that ” In 2005, about 14,000 of the Nash Didan lived in Israel. “… How about those (Nash Didan) unknown-population who could NOT migrate to Israel, and they remained in Kurdistan (Zaxo, Zagros-Mountains, Urmiye, Hewler, Kermansah, Amed, Shernax, Cîziré, Sason, Derîq…etc).

    My Grandparents from both sides (Sino & Ida- Sabré & Musto had to hide their identities entire of their lives and had to pretend to “be” muslim for the outside world but yet in our household ” subconsciously” NOONE at home really care about any religion motives of the outside world , particicularly not avreligion which literally FORCED us to convert & accept their belief!

    Even today, most of Kurdish households (who still “subconsciously” have strong Jewish traditions/attitudes, cultures etc) still do not really accept the islam nor recognise it, but yet, as we are entirely surrounded by “that world” geograhpically, and we Kurds do not have any official State, we still need to live by their rules…

    Sometimes I almost hate my Grandparents about why they never moved to Israel in the 50s instead of staying & being FORCED to become Something they NEVER accepted nor LOVED!

    Peace & Love may always shine on ISRAEL !

  2. Michael

    Aramaic was the international language in the region, many spoke it. The differences in the dialect teach us that there are many ethnic groups that speak aramaic, and it is not the same dialect, there are diferences.

    Your tradition is yours, ours is ours. I speak of mine, but you insist that you will alter my history for your needs. You ignore academic research and bring links to a patriarch I have no interest to hear….

    “Our people” The Nash-Didan is a Jewish term that came to be common by Jews in 1920’s In Israel only. It was in use by members of the Jewish communities originated in Urmia region and it reffers to the Jewish people who lived seperetly in those regions.

    You can play with definitions as much as you like, but don’t drag us into your game. We are a part of the Jewish Israeli state, not Assyria we came from here and came back now. Again, that has nothing to do with you…

    Thank you for your interest.

  3. Joseph Knecht

    Rabban Breikah,

    Thank you for these passages and your interest in historical accuracy. There is no need however for sarcasm or putting down other people who write and propose their own theories. .
    Aramaic…Ashurit…Hebrew..- no matter your particular attachment, chag Purim sameach, may evil leaders and advisors be defeated, in those days and today too.

    1. מיכאל דמירל

      On one hand there is thousands of years of history, science an academic – historical, archiological research etc… On the other hand comes those Assyrians “theories” that claims that all *my* heritage is not true.

      nope, thats not balanced and those “theories” are not welcomed here.
      חג שמח

      Michael

    2. Rabban Breikha

      Thank you Joseph,

      To Michael, you mention ancillary sources as if we are to merit their theories. First of all you are “Nash Didan”, meaning “our people”. Never in any Syriac or Hebrew literature will you find any self-determination of “Aramean” that hasn’t already been dismissed from tradition. You state tradition, yet both the Bavli and the Syriac sources attest to the same identity. What your family speaks is what my family speaks and it’s East Syriac, the dialect of which has survived as Modern Hebrew. The Urmia dialect of Nash Didan is in the East Syriac dialect. In fact, the West Syriac Church has an agreement that only “Suryoyo” is the official self-determination. Listen to the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church in his own words.

      https://youtu.be/CMr485Nw1pg?t=135

  4. Max Wilson

    Hi David,

    My great grandfather, Mordechai (Michael) Abraham was founding member of the Iran Hebrew Congregation as well. I was wondering if you might have any records, we could cross reference. I’ve recently been trying to learn more about him.

  5. Michael Demirel

    I really don’t like Assyrian extremists coming here and making all sorts of delusional arguments….

    – Ashurit is not Hebrew
    – Real academic research connects our language with ancient Aramaic. Look for NENA dialects online.
    – My family, as many more – speak aramaic for thousands of years and there is not much you can say to contradict that now, here.
    – You connect dots very oddly and obviously have an agenda to go with.

    We are not interested in your comments, don’t bother.

  6. Rabban Breikha

    Why are you lying? Even the Talmud states, in Megillah 18a:23, “§ It was taught in the mishna: And one who speaks a foreign language who heard the Megilla being read in Ashurit, i.e., in Hebrew, has fulfilled his obligation.”

    Do you hear a script? What Aramaic?

    Does not Megillah 18a:16 already state, “The Gemara asks: What are the circumstances of the case? If we say that the Megilla was written in Ashurit, i.e., in Hebrew…”?

    Sanhedrin 21b:22 states, “§ Mar Zutra says, and some say that it is Mar Ukva who says: Initially, the Torah was given to the Jewish people in Ivrit script, the original form of the written language, and the sacred tongue, Hebrew. It was given to them again in the days of Ezra in Ashurit script and the Aramaic tongue. The Jewish people selected Ashurit script and the sacred tongue for the Torah scroll and left Ivrit script and the Aramaic tongue for the commoners.”

    You can surely put two and two together? Megillah 18a:23 and Sanhedrin 21b:22 correlates Hebrew therewith Ashurit, i.e. the sacred tongue. What is this “we speak Aramaic”? Since when have Jews deviated from tradition?

  7. David Meyerson

    My grandfather Izzachar Mechti (?) a/k/a Isadore Meyerson was from Urmia and he helped found the Persian Schul in the Chicago/Skokie area. His marriage was arranged with a Turkish Jew Victorya Ojalvo (Sephardic) and they settled in the Chicago area. My grandfather spoke Aramaic and was well known in the Chicago Persian Community.

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