11 May 2013

SADIA SHEPARD'S MEMOIR "THE GIRL FROM FOREIGN" IS A SEARCH FOR ROOTS AND RELIGIOUS IDENTITY : ANCESTRY WORSHIP GENEALOGY BOOK REVIEW

THE GIRL FROM FOREIGN


"A Search for Shipwrecked Ancestors, Forgotten Histories, and a Sense of Home."
Copyright Sadia Shepard 2008
Published by Penguin Press

Sadia's grandmother, Nana, revealed on her deathbed that she had started life as Rachel Jacobs, Jewish in India from the Bene Israel Community. Nana married a Moslem and moved to Pakistan (where she was one of his wives) and converted to be Moslem.  Nana considered herself both religions, seeing them as the same, as amazing as that may seem to us Americans.

Sadia herself is the daughter of a Moslem mother and Christian American father, grew up in Colorado and Boston, and won a Fulbright scholarship (circa 2001) that she used to trace not only her roots, but her grandmother's story.
Her stay extends (with some visits home) for more than 2 years, of interviewing, traveling, and unearthening the family secrets. Sadia wanted to see the places that beloved Nana told about in her stories, meet some of the relatives, visit the ancient Jewish community Bene Israel, believed to be one of the lost tribes. She wants to understand and live within the cultural differences of the religions and countries. In the mean time there is a man who comes to love her. Can she really come back to live in the United States?

I loved this book and I think you will too. You'll be especially interested if you're interested in the Jewish people and the social and cultural forces they have and do face in leaving India for Israel.

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