The Arty Semite

An Arabic Bestseller About Beirut's Jews

By Ezra Glinter

  • Print
  • Share Share
The Magen Abraham Synagogue in Beirut.

A new book, documenting Lebanon’s largely vanished Jewish community is a bestseller — in Arabic.

In fact, “Wad Abu Jamil,” a book by BBC journalist Nada Abdelsamad named after the formerly Jewish neighborhood in Beirut, is available only in Arabic, though translations into English and French are forthcoming.

According to Alexandra Sandels of the LA Times’ Babylon and Beyond blog, “Wad Abu Jamil” began as part of a series on Lebanon’s religious communities, but quickly evolved into a book-length project. Despite the fact that Abdelsamad couldn’t find any Jews still in Lebanon to speak with, she found plenty that were living elsewhere:

“It was a chain of interviews,” she said, adding that she was met with a bit of skepticism at first by some of the people she interviewed. “People asked me, ‘Will it be harmful for us to talk?’ They were skeptical because this is a topic that has been sleeping for all these years.”

The book was launched in December at the Beirut book fair, and has apparently become a huge hit.

Read the entire piece here.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Nada Abdelsamad, Lebanon, L.A. Times, Ezra Glinter, Beirut, Books, Arabic, Bablylon and Beyond, Alexandra Sandels, Wad Abu Jamil

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.