RUWANDIZ (Rawanduz, Rowanduz), district town in the province of Irbil in Iraqi *Kurdistan. In Ruwandiz there was an ancient Jewish community which suffered a great deal at the hands of cruel governors. During the 17th century the two paytanim, R. Isaac b. Moses Ḥariri and his son R. Phinehas (Pinḥas), who wrote several piyyutim and kabbalistic works, lived there. The situation of the Jews improved to some extent at the beginning of the 19th century with the Turkish occupation. In 1848 *Benjamin II found a number of wealthy Jews led by the nasi Muʿallim Nissim, who owned fields and vineyards. The Jews were engaged in agriculture and they spoke Jebel ("mountain") Aramaic. In 1881 there were about 50 to 60 Jewish families; from 1884 to 1906, 120 Jews; in 1910, 40 families; and in 1914, 100 Jews. The penetration of the Russians into Kurdistan in 1915 liquidated this community. The synagogue was destroyed together with its Sifrei Torah. The community was renewed after World War I. According to the official census of 1930, there were 17,787 inhabitants in the whole district of Ruwandiz, of whom 250 were Jews. In 1932 there were 20 Jewish families with a synagogue. All emigrated to the State of Israel.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.