It was only after a March of the Living trip to Poland—the annual educational program that brings students from around the world to better understand Holocaust history—that Robert Mashaal began to think seriously about promoting awareness about the story of Iraqi Jews of Arab and Muslim countries more broadly.
The drama surrounding his own family history began shortly after WW II, after the brutal hanging of wealthy Iraqi Jewish businessman Shafiq Addes in Basra in 1948, when Robert’s paternal grandfather, Menashi, began to question the family’s safety and future in Iraq. The family left for Iran Robert’s father, Victor, grew up in Tehran with his siblings before moving to Montreal in 1951 at the age of 12. Robert’s maternal grandparents moved from Iraq to Palestine in the 1920s. Edna, Robert’s mother, was born in Haifa, and made her way to Canada in 1960. Robert’s parents met in Montreal and became central figures in its thriving post-war Jewish community.