From Wigan to Iraq by rail in search of Jewishness

I HAVE arrived in a deeply religious Middle East city on September 15, just in time for erev Rosh Hashana.

All around are signs of worship and piety. Men are wearing black.

Except this is not Israel but Iraq, and I’m in Duhok on Friday evening, prayers over.

Have I messed up my travel arrangements, pressing ‘Iraq’ instead of ‘Israel’?

Did I make a mistake on my airline ticket?

No, I’m with Lupine Travel on a glorious 21-day journey full of eastern promise from Wigan to Iraq.

Yes, we are starting in the cold, ex-coal-mining, Rugby League stronghold of Wigan and journeying mostly by train — sleeper, Avanti-styled inter-city, cattle truck, if we’re lucky, plus rocky minibus where Saddam didn’t uproot the tracks — all the way to Iraq.

My mission is to find at least one synagogue or some signs of Jewish life in each location.

To read more on this story, subscribe to our new e-edition. Go to

If you have a story or an issue you want us to cover, let us know - in complete confidence - by contacting, 0161-741 2631 or via Facebook / Twitter

Site developed & maintained by
© 2023 Jewish Telegraph