Sudan

The Jewish community of Sudan is not documented before 1885, however circumstantial evidence suggests that Jews may have been living in the country for at least a century before this. In 1885, Sudan rebelled against Ottoman rule and its new leadership forced conversion on all non-Muslim citizens. It was not until the Anglo-Egyptian invasion of Sudan thirteen years later that those who had converted were allowed to revert to their original religions. Some Jews chose to do this, whilst others opted to continue to practice Islam. 

From 1898 Cairo was connected to Khartoum by railroad and a new route was opened to traders. Jews from all over the Middle East and North Africa began to arrive in Sudan via Cairo and settle along the Nile in the towns of Khartoum, Omdurman and Wad-Medani.  By 1926 a permanent synagogue had been built in Khartoum and the community had established itself financially. Despite this, the community never reached more than 1000 people and remained under the auspices of the Egyptian Beth-Din (Jewish law court).

Jews were allowed to live peacefully and suffered very little antisemitism. However, following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, anti-Zionist sentiment in Sudan began to grow and the media grew increasingly hostile.  

 

In 1956 Sudan gained independence from the British Empire, and after Israel's involvement in the Suez Crisis later that year Jewish businesses were falsely accused of poisoning Sudanese schools and hospitals. At this time approximately half the community decided to leave Sudan, although the community was supplemented by several Jewish families escaping Egypt. 

In 1964, following months of protests, the Sudanese military government gave way to a civilian parliament. The new government was closely allied to Nasser in Egypt and it was increasingly difficult for Jews to gain exit visas and leave the country. In 1967 the Arab League convened in Khartoum and the Six-Day War broke out. Antisemitic attacks appeared in Sudanese newspapers advocating the murder and torture of prominent members of the Jewish community. In addition to this, all the young Jewish men in Khartoum were imprisoned and interrogated for days at a time, accused of being Zionist spies. Almost all the remaining Jews left Sudan. 

1973 the few Jewish business owners remaining in Sudan left the country after communism was established and all businesses were nationalised. 

There are no Jews remaining in Sudan. 

Interviewees

SVUK is grateful for the support of The Exilarch's Foundation, The KC Shasha Charitable Foundation & The Shoresh Charitable Trust

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle

© Sephardi Voices UK  i  Registered Charity 1141474  i  info@sephardivoices.org.uk  i  Built by BookJaw