Purim party in Khartoum
Shortly after receiving her master’s degree in ancient history from King’s College in London, Daisy Abboudi found herself listening to yet another dinner table conversation about her relatives’ early life in Sudan. Sudan’s Jewish community, founded at the turn of the 20th century and numbering roughly 250 families at its zenith, was one of the smallest — and shortest-lived — in the Middle East.
And while its members enjoyed warm relations with their Muslim neighbors for decades, Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 and the subsequent wars unleashed by its Arab neighbors brought a flood of anti-Semitism that eventually forced the community to flee, most of them arriving in Israel or Switzerland as stateless refugees.
Still, many of the people who fled Sudan as second- or third-generation natives often get sentimental about their former home, of which they recall fond childhood memories. It was a feeling of inherited nostalgia that inspired the now-30-year-old Abboudi to begin recording this oral history, which she is currently compiling into a book as well as making available on her website Jewish Sudan.