Jewish in Egypt – Zikrayat: Eight Jewish Women Remember Egypt

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 August 2020

Most of us are familiar with the story of the displaced Palestinians. But how many of us know enough of the Jewish exodus from Arab lands in the first half of the 20th century? And their reasons for leaving?

900,000 Jews left the middle east. Of 75,000 Jews in Egypt only 15, 000 remain. Focusing on Egypt, in this book published in 2020 Atiya an Egyptian Copt tells us how eight Jewish women who left their country permanently between 1948 and 1957 remember Egypt. Why did they leave? Why did indigenous Egyptians turn on Jews who were for so long an integral part of their community?

Atiya writes well. She has given us a snapshot of life in Alexandria in the heyday of 1920s to 1930s.

Zikrayat is an Arabic name for girls that means “memories”, “reminiscences”, “recollections”.

I must commend the American University in Cairo for continuing to publish books on Egypt. Their books record for posterity essential parts of Egyptian heritage.

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