World Religions & Interfaith

To Live in Two Worlds


Nissim Rejwan’s To Live in Two Worlds: The Pains of Displacement is a moving narrative of the practical spiritual affinity of one who loved Iraq’s Jewish heritage from its origin in the seventh century BCE through the arrival of Islam in the seventh century CE and his departure from Baghdad to Israel in 1951. He loved his Muslim fellow citizens in Iraq. And they loved him.
Though somewhere in the Bible we learn of the Jews of Babylonia sitting ‘by the rivers of Babylon’ and weeping in memory of Jerusalem, the overwhelming majority of those Jews continued to rebuild their homes and their lives—and worked hard, prospered, and multiplied.
This theme of Jewish prospering and continuity in Iraq although there were troughs as well as peaks caused Rejwan to write The Jews of Iraq: 3000 Years of History and Culture first published in London by Weidenfeld and Nicholson in 1985. His goal was to affirm vigorously that the Jewish integration in Mesopotamia was rich in memory and achievement.

  • 9781891785498
  • 365

Product Description

Nissim Rejwan’s writings in To Live in Two Worlds: The Pains of Displacement reflect a profound sense of loss. The book includes segments of The Last Jews in Baghdad: Remembering a Lost Homeland which he dedicated to Elie Kedourie, his co-religionist and literary mentor. But he also included in the dedication three Muslim fellow writers whose lives like his swirled around the activities of Baghdad’s Al-Rabita Bookshop: Najib al-Mani, Adnan Raouf, and Buland el-Haidari. The affinities of these men were not consciously spiritual. They came naturally and unselfconsciously in their Abrahamic relationship.

There is an aphorism quoted in The Last Jews of Baghdad that Rejwan repeats in To Live in Two Worlds. It is from Louise Gluck, “Adult Grief”: “Because you were foolish enough to love one place, now you are homeless.” In various ways this sentiment is reflected in comments in the new book by other Jewish intellectuals who immigrated to Israel from Arab countries
There is a good deal of nostalgia and a significant measure of mourning.