A fiercely intelligent and softly spoken lady, Shirley Chitayat is the grandaughter of Moshe Bassiouni, one of the earliest Jews to settle in Sudan. Her uncle was the famous Dr Bassiouni, but she was also a Doctor herself and practiced in Israel, having studied medicine at the University in Khartoum. In this extract from the chat I had with her in Israel, she told me about her family’s fascinating and almost unique history.
I thought for a long time about how Tales of Jewish Sudan could honour Holocaust Memorial Day. I wanted to mark the occasion in some way and yet I am acutely aware that, mercifully, the Jews of Sudan emerged unscathed from the W’ar.
It was then that I remembered the writings of Rabbi Malka, which appeared in the Jewish weekly paper of Cairo, 'Al-Shams'.* Between 1943 and 1945 Rabbi Malka returns again and again to the atrocities that were being committed in Europe. His writing moves from despair and anger to a reluctant acceptance that these horrors must be God’s will. He knows he is powerless to help his fellow Jews in Europe, and he also knows that if Axis forces are victorious then he too will be in danger.
Below are some extracts from these writings.