Financier, philanthropist, and longtime president of the World Sephardi Federation Nessim Gaon was proud of the Sudanese birthright that made him part of a long lineage of Jews from Arab lands. However, with growing antisemitism in Sudan, he also believed Israel offered the only safe haven for Jews around the world and devoted his life to constantly improving the Zionist project. 

Gaon’s oldest grandchild, Dr. Alexandra Herzog, deputy director of Contemporary Jewish Life for American Jewish Committee, shares the story of her grandfather’s flight from Sudan, his quest for equality in Israel, and his pursuit of peace between the Jewish state and Arab nations that led to the historic 1979 accord between Israel and Egypt.

Along with Dr. Herzog, oral historian Daisy Abboudi describes great changes in Sudan that take place during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which saw the country emerge from a period of Islamic extremism to a land of possibilities for Jewish pioneers. However, this brief window of openness closes once again as Gaon’s cousins, Diana Krief and Flore Eleini, describe how following Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, Sudan once again became a terrifying place to be a Jew. 

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Episode Transcript

ALEXANDRA HERZOG: Oftentimes, I asked him, would you want to go visit Sudan? If you could, would you? And you know, he would tell me, ‘Well, I have this image in my head. And I want to keep it that way.’ And I think that it was so loaded for him in terms of memories, in terms of, you know, vibrancy of life and I think he wanted to keep it as this frozen image.

MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN: The world has overlooked an important episode in modern history: the 800,000 Jews who left or were driven from their homes in Arab nations and Iran in the mid-20th century. This series, brought to you by American Jewish Committee, explores that pivotal moment in Jewish history and the rich Jewish heritage of Iran and Arab nations as some begin to build relations with Israel. I'm your host, Manya Brachear Pashman. Join us as we explore family histories and personal stories of courage, perseverance, and resilience. 

This is The Forgotten Exodus.

Today’s episode: Leaving Sudan

MANYA: When Diana Krief and her 95-year-old mother Flore Eleini look back on their family’s life in Sudan, they conjure dark memories.

Flore remembers enjoying afternoon tea outside with her mother-in-law when soldiers armed with bayonets stormed the garden.

FLORE ELEINI: Life was normal, life was good. And then, little by little. it deteriorated. We were the very, very last Jews to stay in the Sudan. And then, after the Six Day War, of course, they came, you know, in the street, they were shouting, kill, kill, kill, kill the Jews, kill, kill, kill the Jews. And one day, I thought it was our end.

MANYA: Her daughter Diana remembers soldiers raiding their house and posters of decapitated Jews outside their home.

DIANA: It's actually by others that I came to know that I was Jewish, that I was a Jew, you know, born in a Jewish family. They used to come in front of the house with posters of Jews in the Mediterranean Sea with their heads cut off, and blood everywhere. That’s the first time I had actually seen the land of Israel. I didn't know that we had a land before. 

And it was “itbah” the whole time. And even when we would put the radio on, they would sing“itbah itbah al yahud.” That means “slaughter, slaughter the Jews”. And this always stayed in my memory.

MANYA: In 1968, Flore and Diana were among the last Jews to flee Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan. They followed a path to Geneva blazed by Flore’s cousin, Nessim Gaon, a financier and philanthropist born and raised in Sudan who had moved from Khartoum to Switzerland a decade earlier. 

Gaon, who died in May 2022 at the age of 100, was a legend in modern Jewish history. As a longtime president of the World Sephardi Federation, he worked to raise the profile of Sephardic Jews around the world and level the playing field for them in Israel – where Arabic speaking Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews were often looked down upon. 

On the contrary, Gaon believed they offered Israel a gift – a link between the Jewish state and their former homes in the Arab world. Gaon himself offered a shining example. He persuaded his dear friend, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to meet with Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, which led to the historic 1979 accord between Israel and Egypt – the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation.

ALEXANDRA: For him when Israel was built, it really was like a miracle. He really, truly believed in the possibilities that Israel could offer. He also realized that Sephardic Jews could play a role in creating a bridge between Israel and the Arab countries, and that they would be able to help in creating peace or at least creating dialogue between some of those countries. And that's really what he did in his conversations with Anwar el-Sadat and Menachem Begin. 

MANYA: That’s Gaon’s oldest grandchild, Dr. Alexandra Herzog, who now serves as the deputy director of Contemporary Jewish Life for American Jewish Committee. As her last name indicates, her mother Marguerite, Gaon’s daughter, married into the Herzog dynasty. Alexandra’s paternal grandfather was former Israeli president Chaim Herzog, and her uncle Isaac Herzog, is the Israeli president today. 

But in addition to that proud legacy, Alexandra is especially proud of the impact her maternal grandfather made in helping Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews – a slight majority of Israel’s Jewish population, but a significant majority of its Jewish poor – thrive, succeed, and lead in the Jewish state.

Gaon was the driving force behind Project Renewal, an initiative launched in the 1970s to rehabilitate some of Israel’s most distressed neighborhoods and improve education and social services there. He developed a bar mitzvah program that provided the education, ceremony, and gifts for thousands of underprivileged boys. And tens of thousands of young Sephardi leaders from impoverished neighborhoods received university scholarships.

ALEXANDRA: A lot of the people who came out of this program are actually mayors or members of the Knesset – important people in Israel who actually have, as a ripple effect, a strong impact on the lives of other people as well.

MANYA: The history of Sudan’s once tiny and tight-knit Jewish community is limited to the late 19th and early 20th centuries – a brief window when it was safe to be Jewish in that Northeast African country. But the Sudanese diaspora’s connection to that country runs unusually deep. 

Sudan, Egypt’s neighbor to the south, was much more than a waystation during the age of migration. It was a land of possibilities. Even if their forefathers spent centuries elsewhere, their descendants today often identify with the fleeting generations spent in Sudan.

DAISY ABBOUDI: If you speak to people who were there, and you say, where are you from, they will say, Sudan, in a very proud, but definitive way.

MANYA: That’s Daisy Abboudi, a London-based oral historian of Sudanese Jewish history, who began her career by interviewing her own grandparents.

DAISY: Sudanese is very much part of their identity and their descendants kind of focus on Sudan. And I know, there's this kind of phenomena from around the Middle East – a kind of nostalgia of looking back. There’s kind of an inherited nostalgia that exists as well. But it's particularly strong in Sudan for a country where people didn't have thousands of years of roots. And I'm kind of always wondering, why? Why has it got this pull?

MANYA: The reason could be embedded in the history of Sudan and the pioneering spirit of the Jews who landed in this rustic pocket of Northeast Africa, where the Blue and White Nile Rivers converged, the constellations shone brightly in the night sky, and the scent of jasmine and gardenia floated in the air.

In the early 19th century, Sudanese and Egyptian residents lived under Ottoman rule. Jews in Egypt – and the few there might have been in Sudan – faced harsh taxes. But that changed toward the end of the 19th century, as the Ottoman Empire fell, and British forces took over Egypt, before moving south. With them came Christian missionaries who intended to “civilize” the tribes there. An opposition and independence movement began to build, led by a self-proclaimed Mahdi, who claimed to be the foretold redeemer of the Islamic nation. The 1966 epic film, Khartoum, depicts the infamous 1884 Siege of Khartoum, in which the Mahdi, portrayed by Hollywood superstar Laurence Olivier, defeated the popular British General Charles Gordon, played by another Hollywood legend of Ten Commandments fame, Charlton Heston.

DAISY: When this independence movement starts, it's led by a man who calls himself the Mahdi, which means the kind of chosen one, and he wins, basically. He conquers Sudan quite quickly and then promptly dies of malaria and his successor takes over. But this period of independence, once it was established, is called the Mahdia, after the Mahdi. 

It was an Islamic state, basically in that it was quite extremist. All the non-Muslim people living in Sudan had to convert to Islam. This was a law that was targeted at the missionaries who were there, but of course these Jews that were living there got caught up in that policy.

MANYA: When the British conquered the Mahdi in 1898, that conversion law was revoked, and some converts reverted back to Judaism. The British built a railway line to supply the army and connect Egypt to Khartoum, the capital of the dual British-Egyptian colony. And soon, Sudan became a destination for Jewish families who sought to build economic opportunities from the ground up.

DAISY: It was a kind of a mercantile community, a lot of shops, import-exports, cloth, gum Arabic, hibiscus. A couple of families grew and then traded hibiscus, which was like the main ingredient in cough syrup at the time.

Don't forget, at that time, Sudan was very new – Khartoum especially, in terms of on the map in terms of European consciousness, obviously not new in terms of how long it's actually been there. But it was kind of seen or perceived as this new frontier. It was a bit off the beaten track. 

There wasn't the mod cons or luxuries even of the day. So, it was people who were willing to take a little bit of a risk and dive into the unknown who would actually go to Sudan.

MANYA: According to historian Naham Ilan, though the community was deeply traditional, it was largely secular and introduced many of Sudan’s modern conveniences. 

Morris Goldenberg from Cairo was the first optician in Khartoum. Jimmy and Toni Cain, refugees from Germany, ran a music hall and cabaret. Jewish students attended private Christian schools.

By 1906, the Jewish community of Egypt invited Rabbi Solomon Malka, a Moroccan rabbi who was ordained in British Mandate Palestine, to lead Sudan’s Jewish community. He was supposed to stay for only a few years, but instead stayed and purchased his own manufacturing plants, producing sesame oil and macaroni. His son Eli would later write the foundational history of the community titled Jacob’s Children in the Land of the Mahdi: Jews of the Sudan.

DAISY: When Rabbi Malka came, he was the shochet, he was the mohel, he was the rabbi. He was everything, it was a one-man band. The community was already kind of focused in Khartoum in 1928 when the synagogue was built. The club was built in 1947. I think the peak in terms of numbers of the community was early to mid-1950s. And that was about 250 families. So even at its peak, it was a very small community.

MANYA: Community is the key word. Everyone knew each other, looked out for each other, and when Israel was created in 1948, they raised money to help some of their fellow Jews seek opportunities in that new frontier. Those who left weren’t fleeing Sudan – not yet.

That shift didn’t happen for at least another decade. When things did start to turn, Nessim Gaon would lead the exodus. He had seen what could happen when Jews ignored warning signs and stayed where they were unwelcome for too long.

Gaon’s family arrived in the early 20th Century when his father got a job working as a clerk for the British governor of Port Sudan. Gaon was born in Khartoum in 1922.

ALEXANDRA: As for a lot of Sephardi families, they basically moved with opportunities and changes of power in different countries. So they went from Spain, to Italy, back to Spain. And then they went into the Arab lands. So I know that they went into Iraq, then they went into Turkey. And they spent quite some time actually in Turkey, until they finally went to Sudan and Egypt.

MANYA: As a young man, Gaon left to attend the London School of Economics. Shortly after he returned, he encountered British officers recruiting soldiers to fight for Winston Churchill’s campaign against the Nazis. 

ALEXANDRA: He just went in, signed up, and the next day, he was sent to the front. His family was not so excited about that. And he was actually under age, he wasn't really supposed to be able to sign up at that time. But when they figured out his age, you know, in the army, it was already too late. He just felt that he needed to be useful and do something. And that's what he did. 

MANYA: Though he knew about the uneasy life for Jews in Sudan preceding his family’s arrival there, what Gaon witnessed during World War II while stationed in places like Iraq ensured he would never take for granted his safety as a Jew.

ALEXANDRA: Even though he never spoke about all of the things that he saw in great detail, he did a lot after the war, to help survivors go to Israel. It was very important to him to try to help those who had survived to actually go into a place of safety. He knew what it meant to be a Jew in danger.

MANYA: Gaon and his future wife of 68 years, Renee [Tamman], exchanged letters every day when he was away at war and kept every single one. And after his return, from that point on, they never spent more than three days apart.

The couple soon began to build their family. But because of rudimentary medical care in Sudan, it was difficult. Three of their children died before their daughter Marguerite was born in 1956. They were buried in Khartoum’s Jewish cemetery.

Sudan became independent in 1956. But the ties to Egypt ran deep. Later that year, when French, British, and Israeli forces attacked Egypt over Gamel Abdel Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal, the anti-Jewish tensions trickled south.

DAISY: The Suez Crisis, in the end of 1956, kind of spikes a bit of antisemitism. There is a talk in the newspapers about antisemitism, Zionist things, plots. There were a few things that made life slightly more difficult, but not in a very impactful way on daily life.

MANYA: There were other signs too. When the winner of the Miss Khartoum beauty pageant was discovered to be Jewish, she lost her crown. When Jews had matza imported from London for Passover, it had to be packaged in plain boxes without a Magen David. Given what Gaon had witnessed in World War II, that was enough to leave. He, his wife, and only daughter at the time went to Geneva.

ALEXANDRA: That was a blooming community, they were happy, they were together. And they were able to create and expand on their Jewish life. And I think that, at some point, when it became clear, when they saw the signs of that antisemitism coming their way again, they just felt like, “OK, we've seen this before, not just in Sudan, but also from the history of the Holocaust. And we need to take proactive measures, and make sure that we're safe.

MANYA: When they left, Gaon and his wife told no one. They packed only enough bags for a vacation. They even left the doors unlocked and food in the refrigerator so no one dropping by their home would get suspicious.

ALEXANDRA:  My grandmother always told us how some part of her broke a little when they just left the house. They really pretended that they were just going out and they would come back. They would tell us how hard it was when they turned and they looked at the house the last time and they knew that they had left most of their things. That they had a whole history there. That they had children there who were still going to be there and it was really difficult. And so, they took everything [with] them, left to Switzerland, and made a life there.

MANYA: The decade that followed was particularly tumultuous in Sudan. The country had its first coup of many, and a military government took over. In 1960, all of the Jews who had left Sudan had their citizenship revoked. Another revolution in 1964 restored civilian rule. 

DAISY: It’s at that time, that a lot of the north-south tension kind of comes into things. And there was a lot of violence in that revolution, a lot of rioting. And the violence was tribal, north-south tribalism, a lot of violence against southern tribes, people from the South in Sudan. 

But that scared the Jewish community that there would be violence and murders in the streets, and that signaled that this was no longer this stable country that they had been living in. And that's when more people start to leave.

MANYA: By this point, acquiring an exit visa had become difficult for Jews, especially those who owned businesses and properties. Much like Gaon and his wife had left under cover of vacation, people began acquiring tourist visas with return tickets they never used. In the summer of 1967, the Six-Day War became a flashpoint in Khartoum.

DAISY: There was a lot of rhetoric against Jews, in the newspapers, accusations of Zionism, Zionist spies, slurs, the lot. The Jewish young men who didn't know the right people to avoid it, were arrested for the duration of the war, and then released subsequently. And then after the Six Day War, the Arab League Summit, and the declaration of the three Nos. That actually happened in Khartoum, so you can imagine the atmosphere in Khartoum at that time was not pleasant.

MANYA: The Three Nos. No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel. These were the pillars of the Khartoum Resolution, the Arab world’s proclamation denying self-determination for the Jewish people in their biblical homeland. The Arab League Summit convened in Khartoum on August 29, 1967 and the resolution was adopted days later.

Flore recalls how Muslim friends and colleagues suddenly turned on them. Returning home from a trip, her husband Ibrahim’s business partner brought back a framed picture and insisted that Ibrahim read its engraved inscription out loud: “The world will not have peace until the last Jew is put to death by stoning,” it said. Another friend asked Flore one day where she hid the device she used to communicate with Israel, implying she was a spy.

During a visit to Geneva, Ibrahim was warned not to return because there was a price on his head. Flore said their delayed departure was a source of tension between her and her husband, who even for years afterward, couldn’t believe his beloved Sudan had betrayed them. But the time had come for most Jews, including the extended family that Nessim Gaon had left behind, to abandon their homes and fortunes in Sudan and join him.

FLORE: My husband had confidence in them. And we had a lot of problems between my husband and me because of this. Because I said ‘Ibrahim, this is not a country for us.’ He says: ‘You don't know anything. They won't harm us. They won't do that.’ He had confidence, he couldn't believe it. Until my husband became very old. He died at the age of 94. And he always, always, in his heart, he said that they cannot harm us. But he had illusions. He had illusions.

MANYA: The Gaons also could not return. It was simply too dangerous. But in the 1970s, when Nessim Gaon learned vandals might have desecrated the Jewish cemetery in Khartoum, he resolved to retrieve their children and other family members who were buried there. From a distance, he coordinated an airlift for several prominent Sudanese families, including Rabbi Malka’s descendants, to transfer the remains of their loved ones out of Sudan to be reburied in Jerusalem where he knew they would be safer.

It was this sincere belief about the promise of Israel and the promise of peace in the region that led Gaon to encourage and attend a meeting between Menachem Begin and Anwar el-Sadat in 1977.

ALEXANDRA: He saw opportunities there to create a peace with Egypt and he told Menachem Begin we can create peace with the Arab countries. And so Menachem Begin took him to meet with Anwar el-Sadat. They had a meeting and they hit it off right away, because they spoke the same language, they came from the same place. 

MANYA: Over the next two years, Gaon worked discreetly in the background to ease both of their minds, find common ground, and reach a consensus. When the two leaders were ready to sign a treaty in 1979, Gaon gave them both the Swiss pens they used to make it official. 

ALEXANDRA: They actually called him first thing after signing, and told him: ‘Nessim, it happened. We did it.’ And, you know, it was something that he was very proud of, but that we were not really allowed to talk about in the outside. 

He truly believed in the possibilities, in the outcome. That's what he focused on. He wanted to better the lives of people both in Israel and in Egypt, and he cared about, you know, the Sephardi Jews that were part of that narrative as well.

MANYA: Sudan was one of only two Arab nations who supported the accord. Egypt was suspended from the Arab League for ten years and el-Sadat was assassinated in 1981.  Still, Gaon never stopped trying to pave the way for more peace negotiations. In fact, much later Israel tapped him to meet privately with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Unfortunately, the outcome was not the same.

ALEXANDRA: We did not really want him to go and meet with Arafat because we were worried. I mean, Arafat had a long history of terrorism and we were a little bit scared. Arafat actually told him that at some point, there was a murder order on his head. They were considering killing my grandfather. And they decided not to, because he realized that he was an Arab like him.

When my grandfather told us about this, we all went like, [gasp], what are you saying? But he was very calm about it. And he said: ‘You know, I, I stood there and Arafat told [me], I knew that you were doing a lot of good things. And you know, you were not doing anything bad towards the Arab populations. And you are very respectful. This is your background as well. And so we decided not to go ahead with it.’ But I think my grandfather found it very difficult to talk to Arafat. And Arafat was not ready to make peace.

MANYA: By this time Gaon had become a grandfather, Alexandra’s Nono – the one who taught her how to whistle and play backgammon. The one who blessed her before long trips. The one who taught her his first language, Arabic. The one who passed down his love for the beauty of Sephardic Jewry and his concern about it being overshadowed and undervalued around the world and in Israel.

ALEXANDRA: He was so idealistic about Israel, and really believed in it and thought it was such an important project. He also was very critical of it in terms of its treatment of Sephardic Jews. He was very sensitive to it, and he really worked hard to change that. 

He was a little bit darker skinned. And he came from Sudan, he was born there. So he saw himself really, as a Sephardic Jew who had the opportunity here to educate this new country and to help this new country understand how Sephardic Jews could actually help and be positive agents within the country.

MANYA: He also believed that the Jewish world must acknowledge and respect its own rich diversity for the benefit of everyone – Jewish, non-Jewish, Israeli or Diaspora. As president of the World Sephardi Federation, he traveled the world to encourage others to step up and show that Jewish history is not just an Eastern European, Ashkenazi narrative.

ALEXANDRA: The more you're open to people who come from a different background, the more you also know how to interact with non-Jews and with countries that are maybe antagonistic to you. I think that it was a way for him to sort of bridge conflict to say: if you make an effort within the Jewish people, then you learn how to talk to everybody.

MANYA: Daisy Abboudi said telling the stories of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews is complicated. Are they migrants? Are they refugees? What do they want to be called, and why? And then there’s the ambivalence some Israelis have had about welcoming all Jews, some of whom still feel affection for nations that wish Israel did not exist. In their eyes, it’s a fine line between affection and loyalty.

DAISY: It's not an easily packaged short story. It feeds into so many different kinds of strands and politics and it's such a messy period of history anyway, with colonialism and the end of colonialism and nationalism, and, and, and, and. I think it is too big and too much for people to kind of get their heads around. And so people just don't.

MANYA: But Gaon believed that leveling the playing field and making sure everyone has equal opportunities to education and leadership is where it starts. As part of Project Renewal, he often walked the streets of the most distressed neighborhoods in Israel to hear firsthand what residents there needed and advocated for them. In addition to the scholarships, bar mitzvah programs, and Project Renewal initiative, Gaon also held court at the King David Hotel whenever he traveled to Jerusalem. Sephardi residents would line up around the block to meet the man who invested and believed in them.

ALEXANDRA: Years later, when he was quite influential, he got a letter from the Sudanese government to tell him that they would love it if he took back the nationality. At the time, he decided not to. 

He wanted to keep the memories and the life that he had in Sudan and all of the legacy of Sudan without specifically being connected to a government or a political situation that he disagreed with and that was difficult and unpleasant to Jews.

I know that oftentimes, I asked him, would you want to go visit Sudan? If you could, would you? And you know, he would tell me, ‘Well, I have this image in my head. And I want to keep it that way.’ And I think that it was so loaded for him in terms of memories, in terms of, you know, vibrancy of life and what he experienced, and I think he wanted to leave it that way, and not be sort of surprised or sad, or, shocked by the changes possibly. I think he wanted to keep it as this frozen image.

I hope that one day I can go both to Sudan and to Egypt and see those places myself and get a sense of putting the pieces of the puzzle together and getting a sense of what life might have been.

MANYA:  It’s unclear when it will be safe for Jews to travel to Sudan again. Between November 1984 and January 1985, Sudanese, Israeli and U.S. officials worked with Gaon and Alexandra’s father, Joel Herzog, to facilitate an airlift of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from refugee camps in Sudan to Israel. Operation Moses, as it was called, ended abruptly in January 1985 as soon as Sudan’s Arab allies caught wind of the joint effort, stranding many Ethiopian Jews there. Some were eventually rescued, but not all. 

ALEXANDRA: He not only helped fund the mission, which was very secretive, but he also took care of all of the details of the infrastructure from making sure that they could take a bus, to the plane, to a ship. He really took care of all of the details. And it was important to him because he wanted to make sure that fellow Jews would be in a place of safety.

MANYA: Tribal conflict and civil wars also have continued. Feeling neglected by Khartoum, the largely agrarian South Sudan gained independence in 2011 after two civil wars. Warring factions within the South agreed to a coalition government in 2020. 

Meanwhile, since 2003, millions of Darfuri men, women and children from three different ethnic groups have been targeted in what is considered the first genocide of the 21st Century – atrocities that continue today. 

In 2019, Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was pushed out of office by a series of peaceful protests. The following year, Sudan’s fledgling civilian government announced its intentions to join the Abraham Accords as part of a larger effort to engage with the international community and secure international assistance. This included an agreement by the United States to remove Sudan from its state sponsor of terrorism list. But yet another military coup in 2021 derailed any efforts toward diplomacy and that plan was put on hold until a civilian government is restored. 

Gaon died before seeing it become a reality. 

ALEXANDRA: He really saw Sudan as his home. That was the place that he knew, that he grew up in. And I mean, again, he had gone to London before to study, he still came back to Sudan. You know, he went to war, he came back to Sudan and came with a lot of different layers of understanding of what it meant to be a Jew, in a lot of different countries, a lot of different places. 

MANYA: Alexandra said he carried those layers and lessons with him throughout his life, as well as immense pride that he came from a long lineage of people living in Arab lands. For Nessim Gaon, the Jewish tradition was and always should be a big, diverse, inclusive tent.

ALEXANDRA: One of the memories that really sticks with me is how during the Kohanim prayers at the synagogue, my grandfather would take his tallit, his prayer shawl, and put it on top of all of his children and grandchildren. And my grandmother would do the exact same thing with us in the women's section. 

And of course, from time to time I would peek and look at this beautiful tent that was extended above all of my family members. And what was really special to me, was how we knew at that moment that we were being blessed by both my grandparents and that if someone was around and looked completely alone, they were welcomed under our tent. 

And this really represents for me, what my grandparents were, they were warm. They were inclusive, loving and generous. And really they extended the tent, our family tent, to all the Jewish people.

MANYA: Sudanese Jews are just one of the many Jewish communities who in the last century left Arab countries to forge new lives for themselves and future generations. Join us next week as we share another untold story of The Forgotten Exodus.

Many thanks to Alexandra, Flore, and Diana for sharing their families’ stories.

Does your family have roots in North Africa or the Middle East? One of the goals of this series is to make sure we gather these stories before they are lost. Too many times during my reporting, I encountered children and grandchildren who didn't have the answers to my questions because they never asked. That's why one of the goals of this project is to encourage you to find more of these stories. 

Call The Forgotten Exodus hotline. Tell us where your family is from and something you'd like for our listeners to know such as how you've tried to keep the traditions and memories alive. Call 212.891-1336 and leave a message of 2 minutes or less. Be sure to leave your name and where you live now. You can also send an email to and we'll be in touch.