Jean Naggar



Jean near Mena House in Cairo, circa 1939

Why I wrote Sipping from the Nile?
Validation indeed from my granddaughter, Sarah, aged 12


Dear Granny
From the very beginning of the book I was blown away with the wonderful writing and the exciting stories you had to tell. I loved learning about my ancestors and how your family resembles them in different ways. I loved to imagine you as a little girl. It was a delight to read the wonderful stories. Thank you.
Love,
Sarah

Sarah aged four playing the piano in Gran Gran's apartment

Joyce Smouha (Gran Gran) aged two

Dinner plate and pitcher with entwined monogram of Nessim & Elena Mosseri (great-grandparents)

Memories of roses, and Auntie Helen's silver Megillah scroll of the Book of Esther

Auntie Helen's Megillah

Welcome to some facts: why readers are loving reading Sipping from the Nile

Click on the link above and read the review
And please take a moment to visit this month's blog post.




Excerpt from latest five star Amazon review: March 5, 2014
"This book is extremely well written, poignant, historical, and filled with people from her aristocratic Cairo family who come across as real and fascinating as characters you'd meet in the best fiction..."

Viviane Kirsch awards Sipping from the Nile five stars. in her October 2013 review : "Once you start reading it, you will not be able to put that book down!"
She also writes "A very well written account about the golden life of an Egyptian Jewish family before their forced exodus in 1957 due to political reasons ... a thorough historical and cultural background of the different ruling powers in Egypt ... The narrative, full of emotion and rich in descriptions, is accompanied by authentic photographs."

Amazon review #100, awarded five stars to Sipping from the Nile
"Marvelous book" says reviewer AnnaMayfair
"I so enjoyed reading the journey of Ms Naggar's life. It is a wonderfully written book that I would so love to see as a film or PBS series. I could taste the food. I could feel the joy. I could feel the tension. Marvelous, absolutely marvelous book. I am so grateful to Ms Naggar for sharing her story... I highly recommend this lovely book"

EMILY RUBIN, author of STALINA
"Jean Naggar’s memoir Sipping from the Nile brings the world of Egypt’s privileged class to us like a Downton Abbey set in Cairo. This is history told with the fluidity of poetry, the sensuality of life, and with empathy that resonates from an extended family determined to survive upheaval.”




RITA CHARON, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
"One life in Cairo exposes the meaning of today's Arab revolution. Jean Naggar's Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt achieves the goal of memoir--to illuminate the full context of life by examining one life within that context. The writing is transparent, evocative, and muscular while the events brought to life are consequential for us all. Read this book if you want to understand our world! Naggar's intense focus on the individual life explains what is at stake in the revolution now taking place in the Arab world.




SIPPING FROM THE NILE REVIEW from BOOK CLUB CLASSICS.com :
"My favorite way to learn history is through the eyes and lives of those generous enough to share their stories. Jean Naggar’s memoir — subtitled “My Exodus from Egypt” — is the best kind of memoir.... each story comes to life in a tapestry of privilege and responsibility. The pages fly by and the reader is able to get a rich sense of Egypt’s history through the fascinating lives of her family. I am so grateful that Naggar shared her story. I had the privilege of visiting Egypt years ago and now feel much closer to this country after experiencing Naggar’s story. I RECOMMEND IT!"



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PERSONAL INFORMATION:


Jean Naggar was born Jean Mosseri in Alexandria, Egypt on December 5th, 1937. She grew up in Cairo and attended the Gezira Preparatory School and the English School in Heliopolis before going to boarding school at Roedean School, Brighton, England. She and her family left Egypt in 1957 following the international Suez crisis. She attended Westfield College at London University and was awarded a BA Hons. degree from London University in 1960.

In 1962 she married Serge Naggar and moved to New York City where she has lived ever since. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Serge, and is the mother of three and grandmother of seven.

Her son, Alan Naggar, who lives in California, is an actor, director and theatrical producer.
Her son, David Naggar, works at Amazon.com in charge of digital Kindle content worldwide. He moved to Amazon and Seattle after 16 years in various executive positions at Random House, followed by a year as President of iAmplify, an internet start-up focused on digital content and distribution.
Her daughter, Jennifer Naggar Weltz, is her partner in the literary agency Jean founded in 1978, the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency Inc.(JVNLA). Jennifer is President of JVNLA (see link on right). She runs the financial and administrative side of the business while also operating as agent of her own list and rights director for the agency.





PERSONAL NOTES:



I hope to include some links that will give a larger portrait of ancestors and the way the lives of this significant community of Sephardic Jews were tightly interwoven with the Egyptian socioeconomic landscape from 1800 on.

Nebi Daniel Synagogue in Alexandria, where my parents were married
Legendary Nebi Daniel Synagogue in Alexandria taken over by Muslim caretaker
Nebi Daniel Synagogue in Alexandria, where my parents were married
Disturbing information about events taking place in Alexandria, Egypt. Read the blog by Lyn Julius and join the international outcry. The last Jews in Egypt are under siege today. The situation of the dispossessed Jews of Egypt needs everyone's help. A last bastion has fallen.

Lyn Julius writes: The Jewish community in Alexandria no longer runs its own affairs, a Jewish visitor discovered on a visit to Egypt in March.







Shaar Ha Shamayim synagogue in Cairo, 2012

I remember walking carefully holding a white wax taper taller than I, into the vastness of this beautiful sanctuary ahead of a bride following her small attendants in clouds of white tulle. We advanced amid gasps of admiration from the packed guests. The flame on the taper trembled in my hands and drops of wax slid down, as the synagogue organizer hovered over us, anxious that the flaming tapers should not slip from small hands and cause a fire. I am not sure whose wedding it was, but I think it was one of the daughters of my father's Uncle Maurice Mosseri.

The portrait seems to be of Yacoub Cattaoui Bey (see link above), a bow to the temple's illustrious past?

It seems from this recent link that services took place in the Cairo synagogue, complete with minyan and rabbi. The series of photos included in the link is comprehensive and lovely, and seems to indicate a fairly numerous community with some younger participants, possibly supportive visitors from other countries.

I was amused and interested to observe that the vast space of my childhood memory seems not vast at all.

SIPPING FROM THE NILE

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