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Jacob's Children in the Land of the Mahdi: Jews of the Sudan Hardcover – April, 1997

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse Univ Pr (Sd); 1st edition (April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815681224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815681229
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,719,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Malka, the son of the longtime chief rabbi of the Sudanese Jews, is a retired businessman who has been deeply involved in world trade and Jewish communal activities. His work is a blend of autobiography, detailed record keeping, and the anecdotal history of a small Sudanese community that exists no more. Malka concentrates on the early part of the century, when Jews accounted for only a handful of the total Sudanese population. Most of them hailed from the larger cosmopolitan environments of Egypt, and most had emigrated by the 1960s, owing to increased tensions in the Mideast. Malka offers plenty of charming stories centering around the hospitality of the Malka household, where Jews from the world over were welcomed and a variety of languages, including Arabic and French, were spoken. Despite its almost folksy tone, this work would be best appreciated by scholars in the field. Recommended for libraries with comprehensive holdings in Jewish studies.?Paul M. Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., Ill.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Malka was born in the Sudan in 1910; his father was that nation's chief rabbi from 1906 to 1949. Malka chronicles the Sephardic Jewish community's history from its beginning in 1885 (when there were only eight families) to the late 1960s, when the Jews left the Sudan for more hospitable countries. Malka writes about his father's prominent role in the community and in the building of Khartoum's lavish synagogue and the community's growth, which peaked in the 1930s and 1940s. The author digresses a bit in his discussion of the Jews of Ethiopia, Aden, Yemen, and Eritrea and in his discourse on the growth of the B'nai B'rith in the Sudan, Egypt, France, and the U.S. The book's final chapters are autobiographical as Malka focuses first on his childhood, then on his travels, career, marriage, and family, offering descriptions of Sephardic life and culture. To have 50 illustrations. George Cohen

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
In his richly illustrated book, Eli Malka tells of the handful of intrepid Jews caught in the 13 year battle between British colonial forces and an XVIII century fundamentalist desert warlord known as the Mahdi.. Acclaimed as of great importance by several prominent Jewish historians, the book tells of their travails and growth from that small group of Jews to a large and prosperous Jewish community. It tells of their dedicated and selfless rabbi, the building of their synagogue and Jewish recreation club, of the only B'nai B'rith Lodge in the african interior, of their difficulties during the Arab-Israeli wars and finally follows them through their dispersion into the diaspora. The reader gets an excellent picture of what it was like to live as a Jew in an isolated Moslem country.
Of interest to genealogists is the detailed histories of most of the Jewish families in the Sudan as well as an appendix listing all Jewish marriages that had occurred during the community's existence in the Sudan. The appendix alone makes this a must have for genealogy and Jewish history libraries.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "abumusa" on December 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Eli S. Malka is a respectful Sudanese jew, whereever he is, who left behind good reputation and an honest authentic book. He symbolizes peaceful linving-together and co-existence in between the Sudanese elites and economical mob within an ethnically diversitified network. I did't personally met him, but in fact, many elderly consider him as an 'honest brother' and a man of social integrity. He belongs to many Sudanese families who have jewish rootes. Incidentally, my wife's name is (Malka)!
Although I have only gone over an Arabic transcript of some of the book's chapters (on a Sudanese local paper) I love to get hold of the English version of the book .. It is worthhaving and worthreading!
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By andrew on November 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Any book about a small community is welcome as it adds information and comment where perhaps nothing existed previously (or even since!). Eli Malka introduces the reader to a very particular chapter in African history. This involved his family and several others who moved to the Sudan (t has to be said) on the coat tails of British imperialism on it's re-conquest of the largest country in Africa. Whilst few people today would say that the Mahdi period brought anything but savagery and unhappiness to thousands of people (inflicted by both sides) there may be a lesson for us today in the very similar growth of Isis in the Middle East.

Malka is at his best in grounding the reader in this period of history. Many similar stories exist of other families who spent significant parts of their lives in both British and French 'possessions'.They all share intimate insights into family life and the characters who are portrayed within the society they occupied.I did hope to learn more of an unknown great uncle (Bernard Goldring)but he isn't much more than a walk on part. You can't have everything!! I enjoyed much of his memoir but perhaps some of his business dealings were expanded to the point of tedium.

The book however is essential reading for anyone who is interested in the global colonial period from the perspective of someone who lived it. Malka is generally generous in his treatment of individuals and does not come across as bitter when his world disappeared in the post-colonial period. There were several clues (unintended) as to why there was antipathy towards the colonial power and it's fellow travellers. The best one is the story of the differential pension arrangements for employees depending whether they were European or Sudanese. Guess who got the worst deal?
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By Carolina on December 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very Interesting and thought provoking book.
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