Remembering Lucette Lagnado, Chronicler of the Lost World of Egyptian Jewry

The late Lucette Lagnado was born to a Jewish family in Egypt in the late 1950s, a childhood that she recounted in her best-selling memoir The Man in the Shark-Skin Suit. Life there was good, writes Yvette Alt Miller in an obituary for Lagnado, who died in July, until anti-Semitism rose in the wake of the founding of Israel.

By the late 1950s, Lucette Lagnado recalled, Jews were being attacked and were panicking. The “grand synagogue on Adly Street” in Cairo had become, she wrote, “a hub of frenetic activity, the scene every day of hurried weddings. As families prepared to flee to any country that would have them, as they plotted their escape literally to the ends of the earth—Australia, Venezuela, Canada, South Africa, Brazil—young lovers chose to tie the knot lest they be separated forever. Engagements that would have lasted months were now barely a couple of days, while weddings that usually took a whole evening were performed in an hour.”

Jewish couples would sometimes go directly from their weddings in the synagogues to the piers to catch boats out of Egypt. “There wasn’t even time to cry,” Lagnado described. “There was only a feeling that one had to get out at any cost.”

With her family, Lagnado fled to America, where she found success as a reporter and writer. But she spent much of her life mourning the lost community of her youth, though later she managed to find something close to it.

In her book The Arrogant Years, Lagnado describes how she left the Orthodox Jewish traditions she grew up in, and the loss and sadness she felt at their absence. She also beautifully describes rediscovering the warm Jewish lifestyle she craved years later, after she tracked down a beloved childhood friend who still lived in the heart of the Sephardi Orthodox Jewish community on Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn. Now a grandmother, Lagnado’s friend welcomed her back with open arms.

“In my absence,” Lagnado writes, “the community . . . had grown and flourished. . . . Families stuck together here, and children lived near their loved ones even when they were grown.” It was all so much like the close-knit community Lagnado’s parents described in Egypt, and for which she herself longed all her life.

Read more at Jewish Voice

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

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