Maurice Shohet was born in Iraq. On September 2nd, 1970 Maurice left Baghdad seeking freedom from a country that had over the past few decades made life for the Jews living there difficult and frightening. The Ba’ath party had come to power in Iraq and more than 20 Jews were either publicly hanged or disappeared from Iraq without a trace. He traveled with a group of 13 other Jews to the Kurdish region in northern Iraq. With the help of some Kurdish smugglers, Maurice and the others he was traveling with escaped to Iran by foot.
After staying in the Iranian capital of Tehran for three weeks, Maurice was finally able to immigrate to Israel. Since then, more than 2,600 Iraqi Jews have immigrated to Israel. You can read Maurice’s personal account of escaping Iraq here.
In 2005, Maurice participated in Iraq’s Out-of-Country Voting Program, which was organized and conducted by the Iraqi Transitional National Assembly Election for Iraqis living abroad. On March 29th, 2005 Maurice and eight other Iraqis living in the United States met with President Bush to share their experiences. As the only Jewish person in the group, Maurice told anecdotes of what life was like for Iraq’s Jewish community when the Ba’thist regime came to power. Maurice also expressed his concern for the minorities remaining in Iraq. Maurice received the ASF, American Sephardi Federation leadership award in 2006. Today he is the President of Congregation Bene Naharayim in New York. You can read Maurice’s personal account of the meeting with President Bush here.