Personal Stories

Of the 80,000 Jews who left Egypt in the last 60 years, each one carries with them a unique collection of memories and stories that have all too often been left untold.  With each passing day, another memory of Jewish life in Egypt vanishes and another story is permanently lost. The rich splendor and tragic legacy of Egyptian Jewry must be documented before it is too late.

JIMENA was created to preserve and share the personal stories of Jews who were compelled to flee Arab lands. Since our inception, we have been documenting the detailed histories and often times painful testimonies of Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews. Our archives are continuously growing and we are committed to continue collecting as many stories as we can.

Here you will find a sampling of personal stories from some of JIMENA’s members.  If you are interested in sharing your story or delving further into the personal and communal histories of Jews who fled Egypt and other Arab lands, we encourage you to contact our office. JIMENA’s Oral History library includes transcripts, unedited video footage, books, and copies of documents. We are also happy to connect you to Egyptian Jews for speaking engagements, research, and interviews.

A note from Lucette Lagnado…..
Once upon a time the Jews of Egypt were a thriving, glittering community active in every realm from commerce to journalism, from finance to the arts. Tragically its 80,000 Jews were dispersed to the ends of the earth, and for decades friends and even relatives were out of touch with one another. The death of the community was never really mourned. It was never even acknowledged. But….That has begun to change. I would argue that it MUST change, that the world must learn of what was, in effect, the annihilation of a magnificent Jewish culture that was tolerant and worldly and intensely literary.

In the last couple of years since I published The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, I have heard from thousands of Egyptian Jews who were scattered around the world — Paris, London, Geneva, Johannesburg, Adelaide, Sydney, Rio, Montreal. And in so many of their notes to me was the longing to have the world acknowledge our common past — we should at last mourn the end of Egypt’s Jewish community in a way that Egypt itself and the West has refused to do. That is what this project — through the marvellously evocative paintings of Camille Fox, through photographs and mementos — will attempt to do.

Lucette Lagnado, author, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit — A Jewish Family’s Journey from Old Cairo to the New World.

Written Narratives

JIMENA Oral History Videos