Published: Feb. 6, 2018
The Greater Zab River in Iraqi Kurdistan

The Greater Zab River in Iraqi Kurdistan

The Program in Jewish Studies and co-sponsors at CU Boulder welcome award-winning author and journalist Ariel Sabar, who will host a public lecture titled “Paradise Lost and Found,” focusing on his best-selling book My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq.

Ariel Sabar

Ariel Sabar

The lecture will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, in the Old Main theater on campus. This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited; RSVPs are appreciated to

Yona Sabar, Ariel’s father, was a distinguished professor at UCLA and one of the world’s foremost experts on Aramaic, the 3,000-year-old language of the Jewish Talmud—and of Jesus. But Ariel’s life seemed a far cry from his father’s. Yona had been born in an ancient village of Aramaic-speaking Jewish in the mountains of Kurdish Iraq—the oldest corner of the Jewish diaspora—but for Ariel, his father might as well have been born on the moon. Then Ariel had his own son, and everything changed.

Sabar’s talk will weave together the remarkable story of the Kurdish Jewish and their Aramaic tongue with the moving tale of how a consummate California kid came to write a book about his family’s Kurdish roots.

About the speaker

Sabar won the National Book Critics Circle Award for his debut book, My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq (2008). His second book, Heart of the City (2011), was called a “beguiling romp” (The New York Times) and an “engaging, moving and lively read” (Toronto Star). His Kindle Single, The Outsider: The Life and Times of Roger Barker (2014), was a best-selling nonfiction short. 

Sabar is also an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Harper's Magazine, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Mother Jones and This American Life, among many other places. He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University.

If you go

Who: Open to the public
What: Community Talk: "Paradise Lost and Found"
When: Thursday, Feb. 8, 7–8:30 p.m.
Where: Old Main Chapel

Sabar’s visit is part of the new Community Talks Series in the Program in Jewish Studies, made possible in part by a grant from the Rose Community Foundation. A subscription series, Community Talks features nationally and internationally renowned scholars, authors, artists and performers for themed public events with the goal of enriching community learning and expanding access to academic programming on Jewish culture and history.

Guarantee your spot at all of our Community Talks events by becoming a subscription member. Subscribers will receive sneak previews, exclusive offers and intimate dinners and salons with visiting speakers. Learn more and subscribe.

This event is supported by CU Boulder’s Program in Jewish Studies, Department of Ethnic Studies, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, Department of English, Department of Religious Studies, and Mediterranean Studies Group.