An inspiring story of finding hope in frightening times, of exodus and determination, and of timeless questions shared among generations
“When my grandson Jake was around fifteen years old, he and I decided to share brunch every weekend. Like many teenagers, he was struggling with timeless questions about God, death, and the meaning of life. During our brunches he shared his thoughts on politics and worldwide conflicts with passionate concern. I assured him that at his age, I had similar questions . . . and that I nonetheless found life beautiful and meaningful while I was growing up. Much to my surprise Jake proved to be sincerely interested in my stories. He would stare at me and exclaim, ‘Cool! Cool, go on . . .’”
Thus begins Without Return—drawn from the stories Jacques Sardas told his grandson about growing up in a Sephardic Jewish family in Alexandria, Egypt, and, later, Cairo. Although Jacques’s family was poor, they were closely knit, and they found a way to survive and even take pleasure in what they had. But when prejudice and violence against Jews escalated after the Suez Crisis, Jacques and his family decided to emigrate. To his surprise and dismay, their exit visas bore the words “Departure definitive, without return”: the authorities had decreed that Jacques and others like him—people who were considered “foreign,” even though they had been born in Egypt—could never see their homeland again.
Like Out of Egypt and The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, Without Return will speak to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. It testifies eloquently to the common humanity that unites us and offers an evocative journey into a world where people of all races, faiths, and nationalities—Greeks, Arabs, Jews, Italians, and French, among others—once lived together in peaceful coexistence. Above all, it is an engrossing personal history that encourages readers of all ages to discover their own.
“What a journey! Without Return is essential reading for anyone as fascinated as I am by the lost world of Alexandrian Jews, remembered here and evoked in poignant detail.”
—Gini Alhadeff, author of The Sun at Midday: Tales of a Mediterranean Family
“Without Return provides an essential addition to the mosaic of experiences surrounding the exile of Jews from Egypt following the Suez Crisis. A family story of challenge and redemption, it is also a profoundly human story that illuminates the valiance and resilience of the human spirit.”
—Jean Naggar, author of Sipping from the Nile
Jacques Sardas began his career in business as a file clerk at Goodyear in São Paulo, Brazil, and remained at Goodyear for the following thirty-three years. After his transfer to Akron, Ohio, he became president of the worldwide tire division, the second-highest position in the company. After leaving Goodyear in 1991, Jacques became CEO of two other manufacturing companies— Sudbury, Inc., and Dal-Tile—and subsequently joined a leveraged buyout company from which he retired in 2008. He lives in Dallas and enjoys spending time with his wife of sixty years and their four daughters and eight grandchildren.