Geoffrey Clarfield

An Open Letter to American Synagogues About the Yazidi

As the Executive Director of the Mozuud Freedom Foundation ( I would like to share with readers of this blog a little bit about our Project Abraham.

“My name is Mirza Ismail. I am a Yazidi who was born and raised in the mountains of the Sinjar in Kurdistan in Iraq. I escaped Iraq to Syria by foot…As victims of an ongoing genocide of our people by ISIL we hope the North American Jewish community will help we few Yazidi who have made it to Canada, to bring our families here. One generation ago, the Jews of Iraq and Syria were our peaceful neighbours. Do not forget us!  Please support the Mozuud Freedom Foundation’s Project Abraham.”

Whenever and wherever there is a Jewish Passover Seder, as there was just a few short days ago, we all read together from the Haggadah where it is written, We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord, our God, took us out from there, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. If the Holy One, blessed be He, had not taken our fathers out of Egypt, then we, our children and our children’s children would have remained enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt… everyone who discusses the Exodus from Egypt at length is praiseworthy.

Despite the many threats that the State of Israel must deal with from its enemies, who often publicly vow to kill its citizens, our attention cannot help but focus on present-day Iraq, the land of our forefather, Abraham.

There the ancient Yazidi people, who once lived side by side and in peace with the Jews of early 20th century  Iraq, are being attacked and enslaved by the Islamic State.  The Jews of Iraq made their own modern Exodus, post-1948, to the State of Israel where they now live in freedom.  The Yazidi people, meanwhile, have nowhere to go.

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have announced that the Yazidi are infidels and have targeted their people and villages for death and destruction. Their men are slaughtered, their boys converted and put on the front lines as child soldiers, and their women and girls are sold in local slave markets to become sex slaves for ISIS fighters.

If we, the Jews of North America do not advocate for the Yazidi and help them leave the camps where they are now often persecuted by ISIS sympathizers, hundreds of thousands more will die. The Yazidi are in a situation like the Jews of Germany in the late 1930s.  They are non-violent Iraqi and Syrian indigenous monotheists and, as Jews, we simply cannot abandon them as we were once abandoned before and during the Holocaust.

Related image

Picture from the India Times

The Mozuud Freedom Foundation is working closely with the Yazidi community of Canada to help champion their cause and to raise funds to re-unite families of those Yazidi who have made managed to make it here. is committed to raise 3 million dollars over the next two years to support and manage the immigration of 100 Yazidi families to Canada through our interfaith initiative called Project Abraham. We are already working with partnering SAHs (sponsorship agreements holders) such as ORAT (the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto), who can legally authorize the stages of immigration and resettlement in this country.

As we understand that it is now near impossible for Yazidi to emigrate to the United States, we are asking you, our Jewish brothers and sisters south of the border, to contribute the funds necessary to bring 100 Yazidi families to Canada. The doors of our country are still open to Yazidi, if and only if they can find the private sponsors to help them come here. That is where we need your help. We can provide you with either US or Canadian tax receipts that can be declared as a deductible donation.

We urge you to join us in this sacred task.

As the Rabbis in our Haggadah once said, “It is the praiseworthy thing to do.”

If your synagogue is willing or able to help please write me at:



About the Author
Geoffrey Clarfield is an anthropologist at large. Having spent more than twenty years living and working in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, he offers readers a cross cultural perspective on the pressing issues of our times. He has contributed numerous articles to the National Post, the Globe and Mail, the New York Post, the Brooklyn Rail, the American Thinker, Books in Canada, Minerva Magazine and is a Contributing Editor at the New English Review.