Farewell to Dejla: Sto­ries of Iraqi Jews at Home and in Exile

Tova Murad Sadka
  • Review
By – October 27, 2011

Tova Murad Sad­ka por­trays the frus­tra­tions, joys, and cul­tur­al ties of Iraqi Jews both in Iraq and as they dis­perse to Israel and the U.S. She cap­tures her believ­able pro­tag­o­nists’ thoughts and frames their cir­cum­stances in beau­ti­ful prose with a sharp eye for detail. 

In The Melt­ing Pot,” Sad­ka describes what life was like for Iraqi Jews after they made aliya, and the dif­fer­ences and con­flicts they had with Ashke­nazi Jews in the Holy Land. In The Cross­road,” Nai­im, an Iraqi Jew in Israel, mar­ries a younger woman and watch­es in frus­tra­tion as she trans­forms her­self from a duti­ful wife who cooks, cleans, and irons his clothes, to one who enjoys going out and social­iz­ing with friends. The longest of Sadka’s sto­ries, The Cross­road” clear­ly con­veys the cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences between the Iraqi Jews and the Israelis liv­ing along­side them in Israel. The read­er can feel Nai­im seethe and con­vulse with anger as he con­sid­ers that his wife and her friends are mock­ing him and rob­bing him of his honor. 

Each sto­ry in this col­lec­tion offers a peek into the mind of an Iraqi Jew. Sadka’s abil­i­ty tran­scends gen­er­a­tions. Read Farewell to Dejla to catch a glimpse of Jew­ish Iraq with its wealth of tra­di­tions, foibles, and complexities.

Aaron Ritzen­berg is a doc­tor­al can­di­date in the Depart­ment of Eng­lish and Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture at Bran­deis University.

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