Egypt, Interbellum: Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff’s “Jacob’s Ladder”

In honor of Palm Sunday, this episode features an excerpt from Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff’s Jacob’s Ladder. Born in Cairo in 1917, the author depicts life in Egypt between the two world wars in the novel, which was published in 1951, before she settled in Israel.


Here is an excerpt from the novel:

Miss O’Brien had felt the child’s hand stiffen in hers, and Rachel’s unseemly interest in the beggar boy moved her. The child might be loved and spoiled, but she must be unbearably lonely if she cared for such a dirty little scamp. At first when everything in Egypt was strange, new, and often shocked her, Miss O’Brien had followed Alice’s instructions and the advice of other nurses that children must be kept away from all that smacked of native life, but now this seemed cruel to her.

Text: Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff, from Jacob’s Ladder in Keys to the Garden. New Israeli Writing. Ed. by Ammiel Alcalay. City Lights, 1996.

Photo: A street scene in Cairo in the 1910s.

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