“Compellingly and charmingly written, Without Return is a testament to Jacques’s resourcefulness and determination to survive against all odds. And not just survive, but make the best of life.”

Jerusalem Post

“Every generation must create its own story in its own time. For a heritage to thrive, it is imperative that new generations engage with the present, allowing it to shape their perspective . . . An excellent read and a source of information on Jewish life in Cairo and Alexandria in the decades before the crisis and near the end.”

Sephardic Horizons

“Sardas’s painful and taxing departure from the country in which he was born is vividly rendered. How does it feel to be unwanted in your homeland? What is it like to be forced to a faraway place with very little money in your pocket and no hope of return? The book deftly answers such stirring questions in the way that only someone who was there can fully describe . . . A striking historical account by an Egyptian Jew forced to leave his homeland.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Sardas’s real strength . . . is placing his personal story in the context of the bigger picture so that readers gain a sense of Egypt’s history . . . Without Return is an interesting read—one that would provide inspiration for those thinking of writing memoirs of their own.”

BlueInk Review

From Without Return:

“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 . . . 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 . . .’”

“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

Jacques and Jake, assisted by cantor Itzhak Zhrebker, prepare for Jake’s bar mitzvah, in 2006.


When prejudice and violence against Jews in Egypt escalated in the 1950s following the Suez Canal crisis, Jacques and his Sephardic Jewish family realized they had to leave the Egypt they loved. To his surprise and dismay, their exit visas bore the words “Departure definitive, without return.” Jacques and others like him—people who were considered “foreign,” even though they had been born in Egypt—could never see their homeland again.

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

The Achilleus, which took Jacques and his wife, Etty, on the first part of their journey.


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.

“The narrative voice of this memoir is full of kindness and compassion . . . Many readers will learn a lot from this book.”

BookLife Prize

The famous corniche, or seaside boulevard, in Alexandria, Egypt.

The author is donating his proceeds from the sale of this book to the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas