The Rise and Fall of Jewish Sudan

In the 100 years following 1885, the Jewish population of Sudan went from six families, to some 1,000 members, to complete disappearance. In an essay describing efforts to preserve Khartoum’s Jewish cemetery, Elli Fischer tells the community’s story:

When the Sudanese rebel leader Muhammad Ahmad bin ‘Abd Allah (known as the mahdi) took Khartoum and Omdurman [a large city located directly across the Nile from Khartoum] in 1885, he forcibly converted the eight Jewish families he found there to Islam.

The fall of the mahdi in 1899 to a joint Egyptian-British force, led by General Kitchener, inaugurated the period of Anglo-Egyptian rule over Sudan—a period that lasted until 1956. It was during this period that the Jewish community flourished. Six of the eight forcibly converted families returned to Judaism, forming the nucleus of the renewed community, and new economic opportunity attracted Jews from all over the Arabic-speaking world.

After World War I, the bulk of the community gravitated . . . from Omdurman to Khartoum. At its height in the 1930s and early 1940s, the Sudanese Jewish community numbered approximately a thousand souls. . . . [Its] members were primarily retailers, merchants, and senior officials in the British administration.

The community began to decline in earnest after Sudanese independence in 1956, and its dissolution was all but complete by the end of the 1960s. That said, relative to most communities in the Middle East, the Jews of the Sudan left slowly and freely, scattering mainly to Israel, the United States, England, and Switzerland.

Read more at Sephardi Ideas Monthly

More about: African Jewry, History & Ideas, Mizrahi Jewry, Sudan


Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security