Proofread by: Rebecca Lash

Transcribed by: Temi

Interview date: 10/19/2018

Interviewer: Henry Green

Total time: 1:20:14

Note: some of the interviewer’s interjection and repetition is omitted from the transcript for clarity

Fred Mashaal: Born January 6th, 1936 in Baghdad, Iraq. Arrived in Tehran 1942. Arrived in U.S. 1955. Arrived in Montreal 1971. Lives between London, England and Montreal 1981-2012. 

Henry Green (00:00:16):

So, uh, what is your name?

Fred Mashaal (00:00:19):

Fuad, Fuad. Fred. Fred, Mashaal. I was born Fuad Mashaal.

Henry Green (00:00:26):

And when were you born?

Fred Mashaal (00:00:28):

1936. [HG: The exact date?] January six, my father. Yeah. [HG: And where were you born?] Baghdad.

Henry Green (00:00:38):

So I wanted to first just thank you for um, being part of the project and being interviewed, and we really appreciate it. So begin by telling me something about, I want to go back. So tell me something about your your your background, your grandparents, your, your history of your family.

Fred Mashaal (00:00:57):

Unfortunately, uh, being the baby of the family and also, um, my parents, my father was an adult, uh, in his, uh, I must have been born when he was well into his fifties. I did not get to hear my stories about my grandparents because of the huge age difference, being the baby of my family. Um, by the time I came of age, um, my grandparents had already passed. I remember them vaguely, but not much more.

Henry Green (00:01:38):

So let's let's let me ask you, you're your father's father? Father's father. Do you know his name? [FM: Haim (ph)] Was he called Chaim? Is that the name he was called?

Fred Mashaal (00:01:49):

I think he was known as Hayim [ph]. Yeah

Henry Green (00:01:52):

And his wife, what was her name [FM: Tuffaha (ph)] and what was her surname? Her maiden name.

Fred Mashaal (00:01:59):

I don't know, but she was, uh, we always referred to her as, uh, she is the one who gave us the name Mashaal. Mashaal from her. [HG: How is it?] Uh, and she was related, uh, uh, she was much closer to a Mashaal than my father and my father took on the name of Mashaal at the age of, uh, at the age of 19, 19, 20 at that age, um, uh, the Otto- Baghdad was ruled by the Ottomans, the Turks, and they would block, uh, go to a street street block, block, both sides and go in and, and practically grab anyone who, who, who appeared to be of military age, anyone they could use in the army, anyone between the age of 16 and 30, they can lay their hands on him. They would take him and they would send them to the front and chances are, he wouldn't make it back, but that's a story. So my father and his cousin friend, Menasha Mashaal, Menashe Mashaal, decided to change their names, to take their mothers, uh, uh, uh, their, Menashe, my father and Menashe together. They took on the name Mashaal and from their mother, because it was a good, uh, it was a good name in the community. And they took their worldly possession, a handful of gold coins each, and they made their way to Kermanshah, Te- Iran. And that was their first exposure to Iran at the age of 20.

Henry Green (00:04:09):

So if you're, so when was your father born?

Fred Mashaal (00:04:13):


Henry Green (00:04:15):

So when he was about 1920, so this would have been about 1909 then?

Fred Mashaal (00:04:20):

Uh, yeah, yeah, yeah. [HG: Before world war I] before world war one. And let me see, 1910. Yeah, yeah. During the war, during the, at the start of the war. Yeah. Uh, they made their way to Kermanshah for safety. And that was their first exposure to Iran. And, uh, they got to like the place or just they worked, they did well, they would go back to Baghdad. They went back to Baghdad to marry from their own community. And then the children, like my brothers, some of them were born in Baghdad and one would be born in Baghdad. The other one would be born in Kermanshah in Iran, because my mother who always missed her family and life in Baghdad, so she would want to go back. And then my father is working in Kermanshah. So she would join him. So the children, some were born in Baghdad, some are born in Iran until the Farhud. And that's when they went to Iran permanently to Tehran.

Henry Green (00:05:39):

Okay. So let's go, let's go back again. So you gave me the names of your father's parents. What was the name of your mother's parents?

Fred Mashaal (00:05:49):

Dallal. Her father was Menasha He was known as Menashe Dallal.

Henry Green (00:05:54):

Yeah. And the, and the, his wife, the mother. What was? [FM: Chahala (ph)] . And she, her maiden name. Do you know what her maiden name? Okay. So let me, let me ask, did you ever meet her parents, the grandparents? [FM: never] Did you ever meet the parents of your father?

Fred Mashaal (00:06:13):

Yeah. Yes. His mother, Tuffaha. I met Tuffaha who is my father's mother. And I met Chahalah who is my mother's mother.

Henry Green (00:06:25):

And would you have any memories of either of them? Can you

Fred Mashaal (00:06:28):

Vague memories, yes. Of my grandmother

Henry Green (00:06:31):

What kind of memory, give me some memory. If you remember- they uh, cook you food? They uh, you went for a walk with them? What, what memory do you have?

Fred Mashaal (00:06:45):

Uh, very little of that, because again, of the huge age difference, but I remember I was naughty, active and to get attention, cause we didn't have anything else to keep us busy, nothing. I would, my grandmother Tuffaha loved to have coffee and she would have a can of a ground coffee and I would steal it from her and run away. And she would chase after me to take it back. That's it not much else. I'm sorry. Not much else, but we, we, but my, my grandmother, she rest in peace. My father's mother Tuffaha. It just said of her that, uh, she would, she's the one who gave us the name Mashaal, we got it, it was through her effort. Uh, as my father was leaving Baghdad to go to Iran the first time, uh, she would go and, um, she would take cloth, cloth for materials, for dresses, and she would take it to, uh, affluent, uh, quote, unquote, Muslims, Turks. Uh, she was peddling it let's say from house to house and she got to know the leaders of the community. And when they wanted to leave my father and his cousin, um, when they wanted to leave Baghdad, she went and asked, uh, the local, uh, um, Turk, Turkish uh, authority. If, uh, if he would give them the name Mashaal and they gave them paper stamped by his office, that they are now known as Mashaal. Aron Mashaal. So we owe it to her and his cousin Menashe.

Henry Green (00:09:10):

So you were, so your parents, your, your father's name was [FM: Aron] and your mother's name [FM: Musli] And how many brothers and sisters did Aron have?

Fred Mashaal (00:09:22):

Uh, Aron, Aron, my uncle had two brothers. My father, my father had two brothers. Then there would be my uncles. Um, uh, I'm not aware of any sisters, but again, because there were so much older, if there were, they must have passed away. And nobody told me. [HG: Your sister, your mother, did she have any brothers?] Yes. Yes. She had a good number of brothers to the best of my recollection. There would be Gurji, oldest Gurji, Abraham, uh, Ellie, Eliyahu, uh, Saleem, and Naim. And she had two other sisters, Lulu and Louise.

Henry Green (00:10:14):

And your mother was born. What year do you think, about?

Fred Mashaal (00:10:18):

1900, maybe.

Henry Green (00:10:20):

So this is about 10 years difference. Okay. Do you know the story of how they met and how your parents?

Fred Mashaal (00:10:25):

I can tell you in those days, uh, the, the, the, the, the, it was all, uh, orche- it was all planned, prearranged, nearly 10 out of 10. Yeah. 10 out of 10. It was [inaudible] And there was nothing to do. Uh, and they had all the time in the world to spend in the kitchen. That's why Iraqi food, which is delicious. And that's why it takes a long time to prepare it because time was of no consequence.

Henry Green (00:10:58):

When you think back, when you remember looking at your grandmothers, did they wear a modern dress or did they wear chador, or do, what did they wear?

Fred Mashaal (00:11:09):

Modern, there is no modern? Well, they dress the way people dressed at the time.

Henry Green (00:11:16):

Which was what, did they have a veil? Did they,

Fred Mashaal (00:11:19):

Well, no, they are not veiled, but in high holidays on very, very special occasion, they would wear a very elaborate, uh, dress, uh, cover, coat. Uh, izab, izab [ph]

Henry Green (00:11:39):

Yeah. But they didn't dress in the sort of the 19th century traditional, uh, covering.

Fred Mashaal (00:11:47):

Yeah. Yeah. Skirts- pants were unheard of no pants for women, [HG: but a lot of] dresses,

Henry Green (00:11:56):

But we have lots of archives. We have pictures of many, many Jewish women who dressed like Muslim women in the sense of being covered and, but this was-

Fred Mashaal (00:12:06):

No, not to my recollection. Yeah.

Henry Green (00:12:08):

Gotcha. And your mother, what did she wear?

Fred Mashaal (00:12:11):

More like modern, modern dresses, dresses, no pants, [HG: no pants. And your father] My father also modern, suit, suit, and tie.

Henry Green (00:12:21):

Okay. So, um, uh, your mother is born where, what city?

Fred Mashaal (00:12:27):


Henry Green (00:12:27):

And your father? [FM: Baghdad]

Henry Green (00:12:30):

In which area of Baghdad do you know?

Fred Mashaal (00:12:32):

I guess they were,

Henry Green (00:12:36):

Battawin, I mean, do you have any idea?

Fred Mashaal (00:12:37):

No, not Battawin, no, as adults, they move to Battawin, in adults, but children were born in I guess a ghetto, Jewish ghetto [overlap]

Henry Green (00:12:52):

Mellah? In the, in the Jewish quarter.

Fred Mashaal (00:12:56):

Yeah, for them, but, but, uh, by the time I was born, they had moved to, Battawin and places like that, but I'm not an authority [overlap] because the reason I'm not an authority is because I left. I left Baghdad at a very early age.

Henry Green (00:13:15):

That's ok, I'm just trying to draw what memories you have.

Fred Mashaal (00:13:19):

Let's go to Iran. I can tell you more.

Henry Green (00:13:21):

Okay. No, we have to finish Baghdad first. So your, um, uh, you were born, you told me in 1936? [FM: Yes] Okay. Do you have, um, you have brothers or sisters that are older than you? Okay. So who is your oldest-

Fred Mashaal (00:13:37):

Maurice? Maurice? Maurice [HG: and when was he born?] 1926, [HG: 26. And the second] Edward 1928, [HG: 28. Is there a third?] Yeah. Ava. Evelyn, uh, 1933. 54. [HG: And then you are] then myself

Henry Green (00:13:59):

In 36. So there's four of you? [MF: Yes] So when you come on the scene, 36, you have an older brother that's 10 years old already?

Fred Mashaal (00:14:08):

Yes. Both of them were 10 years older than I

Henry Green (00:14:13):

And, and you're living in Battawin is that the area you're living in? Do you remember?

Fred Mashaal (00:14:20):

I remember there was a synagogue across our house. We were close to the river, close to the Tigris and close to our street was a a synagogue [HG: Do you remember the name?] No, Ezra Dahoud (ph), Ezra, something I'm not sure.

Henry Green (00:14:43):

Okay. Do you in your house? Um, do you remember what the house looked like at all?

Fred Mashaal (00:14:48):


Henry Green (00:14:52):

Vaguely. And do you remember anything uh, happening in the house where you, would you remember what your bedroom was like? Vaguely. Um, what about, uh, do you, do, do you have any help in the house? Did you have people?

Fred Mashaal (00:15:02):

Yeah. Yeah. There would be, uh, there would be a help. Yeah, sure. Uh, yeah, there would be help.

Henry Green (00:15:10):

was it, was it a Muslim helper was it a Kurdish helper or do you have any idea?

Fred Mashaal (00:15:14):

Yeah, some, some Muslim. Uh, one Muslim, one Iraqi. One Jewish, Yeah. Yeah. One Muslim. [overlap]. Yeah. You're right. You're right.

Henry Green (00:15:27):

Ok in the house. What language did you speak? [FM: Arabic. Uh, Jewish Arabic yeah]

Henry Green (00:15:34):

Judeo Arabic. And in Baghdad you didn't go to school. You were too young. [FM: don't recall] So you, um, you're born in 36. When do you leave Um, Baghdad,

Fred Mashaal (00:15:47):


Henry Green (00:15:48):

42. Do you, uh, in 41 was the Farhud do you remember this at all? [FM: No] So when you leave in 42, yeah. You're now five, six years old. Um, do your parents tell you or do they just one day you just you're gone. How does it work? What, what's your memory of leaving Baghdad?

Fred Mashaal (00:16:12):

Yeah, I just don't recall. [HG: Did you go by car by car?] Yeah by car

Henry Green (00:16:17):

So your parents had a car?

Fred Mashaal (00:16:19):

No, it was, I don't know how it was arranged. They didn't have a car

Henry Green (00:16:24):

So, but you remember being in a car with your brothers and sisters

Fred Mashaal (00:16:29):

With uh, it was myself, my sister, my mother, my father. Yeah. We went, uh, we went to Basra, and then took a train also. Yeah. [HG: Did you stop along the way or was it just] Yeah in Basra we stopped we took a boat to go across the border, and then, and then I don't think a train to Tehran.

Henry Green (00:17:05):

And then you went to Tehran. So did your father speak Farsi?

Fred Mashaal (00:17:10):

I think he had learned something by then. Yeah, because his exposure to Tehran was at an early age. He must have spoken some.

Henry Green (00:17:19):

And you spoke no Farsi? [FM: No] And your mother,

Fred Mashaal (00:17:23):

She didn't at the time.

Henry Green (00:17:27):

Okay. So do you, you, um, you're now in Tehran, you're five, six years old. [FM: Yeah] And do you remember any early memories? Now you're in a new place, you can't speak the language, any early memories?

Fred Mashaal (00:17:44):

I remember going, uh, my father placed me in the Iraqi community school. It was both a school and a synagogue. Uh, the, the big benefactor for that was Meir Abdullah. He put up the funds for that school and synagogue. And after, after two years, uh, I went to the American community school

Henry Green (00:18:14):

And the American community, the, the Iraqi community school, the language spoken in the school was Arabic.

Fred Mashaal (00:18:22):

We, uh, we were, uh, they were, it was that school, he American community school, [HG: not the American, the one before] the one before yeah, it was all Iraqi. Yeah. [HG: it was all judeo arabic] Yeah.

Henry Green (00:18:37):

Then when you went to the American school, what language was that?

Fred Mashaal (00:18:43):

We spoke English. [HG: You spoke English?] Yeah. English as a child, picked it up in a, in a few months. Kids from the school [HG: and the kids] Yeah, because that school, the American community school really it served a good purpose to the Jewish Iraqi community in Tehran. And that community started to- it started with my father Menashe Mashaal and two or three of their friends, back at the start of world war one. And then it grew slowly grew into a substantial community by the time of, uh, by the time world war II ended, uh, more and more Iraqi Jews came and the community swelled to maybe about 2000 at its height before the revolution now, um, at, uh, in the back, uh, to the community school, uh, I learned English quickly because that's cool catered. Uh, Iran was relatively backward compared to say 20, 30 years later, uh, after the war, Iran really came of age. Uh, Tehran became like Europe.

Fred Mashaal (00:20:17):

When I started going to the community school, that school was run by the American Presbyterian mission for the purpose of converting as many people as they could to Christianity. The teachers were all Christian missionaries. And so was the principal, uh, but they taught English and European and American culture. And, uh, the classes were conducted in English. And as a result, all the children of the diplomatic core, uh, would gravitate to that school. Imagine in Tehran, no other, no other European or American school except the American community school. So it was a good, uh, it was a good experience. Um, education was good. We got a good background preparedness for college. Uh, there were, uh, the same time, maybe 10 other Iraqi, 10, 20 other Iraqi Jews like myself from Baghdad. And like I said,

Fred Mashaal (00:21:43):

the school was run by missionaries, dedicated missionaries. And, uh, and, and we, the Iraqi community in Tehran, we were not religious. The reason we are not religious. For example, if I use my father as an example, uh, he was, he always said, next year, we're going to Israel. Even, even as we went to Tehran, and they left Baghdad to go to Tehran, even at that time, my father would say, next year, we're going to Israel, next year in Israel. So there was no need for me to learn any Persian, to go to Persian school, because I'm going to Israel. So, um, and also because of that, the community was not religious. We did not practice in other- we pra- we, we, we observed Passover and Rosh Hashanah and Purim, but we did not observe much else. Saturday was not going to comm- to, to synagogue. The reason

Fred Mashaal (00:23:04):

I'm saying this is because while I went to, for my education to a school run by Presbyterian mission, and we were not practicing, I did not have, uh, intensive Jewish education. Um, nevertheless, that school did not succeed in converting a single person. I mean, I would go there and I would listen to Bible class, Christian, and never allowed it to register. Not 1%, not one iota. We had to sing, uh, uh, uh, and, and him onward, Christian soldiers going on, we would silently we would say, onward Jewish soldiers going on to, so while we did not practice, uh, our Jewishness never left us. Never. It was not diluted. It never left us. And there were, there was no intermarriage.

Henry Green (00:24:11):

So at the school, uh, how many of the students would have been, uh, Iraqi students

Fred Mashaal (00:24:20):

Maybe, uh, early on

Henry Green (00:24:24):

You went in the say in the forties? Yeah.

Fred Mashaal (00:24:26):

Yeah. Early on. It was maybe 20% Jewish, 20% Iraqi.

Henry Green (00:24:31):

So in your class, let's say a, let's say 1940, a 48 you're 12 years old. How many students in your class would be Jewish?

Fred Mashaal (00:24:42):

Maybe six. [HG: And they were mostly Iraqi] like me. Yeah. Yeah. Iraqi

Henry Green (00:24:47):

Okay. Now, do you, do, do you play with these children at all? Or did you play with the Christian children?

Fred Mashaal (00:24:53):

No. Yeah. We, we, we intermingled, we intermingled, religion difference was of no consequence, but, but please the religious, we would play together. Jews and Americans and Christians. And no, no one mentioned religion,

Henry Green (00:25:16):

But here's the question I'm going withhe is did these students not to six Iraqis, but the other ones, did they come visit your home? No. No. Did you go visit their home? No. No. So, so at school you intermingled, but it didn't come to your house. [FM: that is correct] Okay. Now the Iraqi friends you had, did they come to your house?

Fred Mashaal (00:25:40):

Yeah. Yeah, sure. [HG: they did come to your house] many times. [HG: Would you go to their homes?] All the time

Henry Green (00:25:46):

Were their parents, friends. Were your parents, friends with their parents. [FM: all the time] Okay. Did your parents, for example, uh, I don't know here. I'm asking did your mother or father, for example, play cards or shesh besh?

Fred Mashaal (00:26:00):

Yeah yeah. They socialized, um, intensely with each other. That's why we never intermarried we, we only married our own kind.

Henry Green (00:26:09):

So when they I'm trying to understand daily life. So your mother for example, would have these other friends over?

Fred Mashaal (00:26:16):

Yes. They would come over and she would go over by turn.

Henry Green (00:26:19):

And they would play cards together or they would

Fred Mashaal (00:26:22):

Sit and gossip and either talking fashion or, or, or food, yeah.

Henry Green (00:26:31):

What kind of card game did your mother play? Do you remember?

Fred Mashaal (00:26:33):

She didn't. She was not, no. [HG: Did your father play cards?] No.

Henry Green (00:26:39):

Did he play shesh besh?

Fred Mashaal (00:26:41):

He told me once when he was much younger, he did everything. He, the poker, the cards, he did everything, [HG: but not] not in when I became, I learned, [overlap] as a teenager, he stopped all that because of the age difference. [HG: Did your father go to cafes?] Oh, yes. Every night. To meet his friends, [HG: So tell me what that was like, what would he do?] He and his friends they would go there, there was- in the beginning we had no telephones, so they would just gravitate to the local cafe. And there would be, maybe there were a group of, let's say 10 and out of the 10, there were always seven or eight. [HG: And Jewish, not Jewish or?] Jewish the same of the same kind. They were same background. Iraqi Jews. Yeah they would go spend a couple hours and back home. [HG: And they would what drink coffee?] No television. Yeah. Tea

Henry Green (00:27:46):

Tea, like nana or something.

Fred Mashaal (00:27:48):

Tea and gossip and they'll talk about politics business. Yeah. Keep in mind there was no television at the time.

Henry Green (00:27:58):

I understand. You're- now, did you ever go with your father

Fred Mashaal (00:28:02):

On occasion yes. That's how I know about it.

Henry Green (00:28:05):

[laughs] it's what I'm trying to find out. And what language did they speak? Judeo-Arabic? [FM: Arabic] So did your, um, uh, at home, what language did you speak? [FM: Arabic. Yeah] So you did not speak English at home? [FM: No] Farsi?

Fred Mashaal (00:28:25):

Uh, no.

Henry Green (00:28:26):

Did you know you have help in the house?

Fred Mashaal (00:28:29):

Yes. We had a Muslim, always we had a Muslim, uh, help. Yeah.

Henry Green (00:28:35):

And Shia?

Fred Mashaal (00:28:38):

I don't recall, but one incident I recall one, uh, first I underlined this, in my years in Tehran I never experienced, um, uh, antisemitism. I never experienced persecution or antisemitism, not one incident, not one, not a single incident. However, I witnessed one, one incident, which stands out in my mind, uh, at the end of the afternoon, like the big meal of the day was, was a lunch. Lunch would be late, uh, about one o'clock. And then there was the big meal of the day after that my father would go and take a nap. So the routine was we'd have a big meal, after that, the servant, she would, uh, finish up in the kitchen, and then she would eat her share her part. And then what if there was any leftover because there was no refrigeration. She would take whatever was left over. She'd take it downstairs to, she'll take it out to the street. And there would be some beggars people, and she would give them whatever is left over.

Fred Mashaal (00:30:17):

And this one incident, I recall she handed it to the man. It was a tin, a tin bowl. And somebody mentioned someone, someone [through] the word that this is Jewish or Jewish food or Jewish something. And instantly it's like his hand. He let loose, he let loose and the bowl fell on the floor. Uh, and he did it on purpose. I mean, it's like his hand became paralyzed. And this is because even though they're not educated, they're illiterate and they are begging, but it's ingrained in them that Jews are dirty and that's a single incident I witnessed. And I recall it clearly.

Henry Green (00:31:13):

Do you remember the, uh, the word for unclean,

Fred Mashaal (00:31:18):

Uh, in Persian, Kassif, kassif, kassif [ph]

Henry Green (00:31:25):

So they would have the sense that, that if it's a Jew it's, it's unclean

Fred Mashaal (00:31:30):

A Jew is unclean, because of their religion, they keep, uh, yeah. Can we, uh, I need to take a break?

Henry Green (00:31:38):

So we were talking about, um, this incident of, of, uh, the one incident of antisemitism. So what was it like for children and growing up in, in, uh, Tehran. Tell me.

Fred Mashaal (00:31:54):

It was fun, um, we did not have the luxuries that, uh, the children nowadays enjoy, we socialized a lot, a lot. We socialized a lot. We played outside, outdoors, we went to movies, we made parties.

Henry Green (00:32:11):

Um, were you a member of a club at all?

Fred Mashaal (00:32:14):

No. Just being of the same background, made us a member of a club

Henry Green (00:32:21):

At school. Were there clubs at school?

Fred Mashaal (00:32:24):

There were all kinds of clubs. [HG: were you a member of a sports club, did you play sports?] Yeah, some of us played sports [HG: what sports did you play?] I played basketball. Um, but mostly we socialized amongst ourselves and we had a very nice time.

Henry Green (00:32:42):

So what would that mean? You would go, uh, would you go into the mountains with you friends, go camping?

Fred Mashaal (00:32:47):

Yeah. Sometimes we'll go camping, we go on a picnic, we'd go swimming [HG: with your parents or with your friends?] No, not never with our parents, in my time, uh, ourselves together, once we were, uh, then we had a bit of money and we would go, we'd go on a weekend to a resort and play cards amongst ourselves. And we, we carried on, yeah beginning with the age of 15, we, we carried on as adults. Uh, I, at the age of 16, 17, uh, I had, I dressed like a, like an adult, uh, I would have an, a proper dress shirt and a neck tie and a suit, at the age of 15, 16, all of us dressed like that.

Henry Green (00:33:45):

Your what kind of business did your father have?

Fred Mashaal (00:33:48):

He was a business- he, he, he was a money broker. He, he, he put a lender and borrower together and made a commission

Henry Green (00:33:59):

And it was in a foreign currency.

Fred Mashaal (00:34:03):

No Iran in Tehran. Uh, he would, uh, members of our community would uh, would lend and local merchants, uh, Iranian merchants would borrow, and the interest was quite hefty.

Henry Green (00:34:23):

And, and he, um, where would he get the money to loan them the monies

Fred Mashaal (00:34:28):

From his friends. [HG: From his friends?] Yeah. And himself and his friends. It was like a small time banker.

Henry Green (00:34:35):

Small-time banker. And did- but your fa- as your, as the years. So you're, you're, you're say you were 15, 16 years old. Did your father, did his Farsi improve as time continued or

Fred Mashaal (00:34:49):

I, yeah, I did not pay attention either. He spoke basic. Yeah. [HG: what about your Farsi?] I learned it from the streets and from help, from servants and the, from the street,

Henry Green (00:35:00):

The woman who worked, the Muslim, who worked at your house, she spoke Farsi? [FM: yes] Not Arabic, just Farsi

Fred Mashaal (00:35:06):

No. None. None. None. None. Absolutely not. The Arabic was Jewish Arabic

Henry Green (00:35:11):

So you spoke Farsi with her? [FM: Yeah] So you've learned Farsi sort of from the streets then, not at school

Fred Mashaal (00:35:17):

Yeah. It's remarkable. How fast you pick up a language when you're seven, eight, nine, 10. If you're, if you go to a foreign country where you've never been, it's amazing how fast you pick up that language

Henry Green (00:35:32):

Did your brother, your sister. Did they also learn Farsi? [FM: yes, everybody] And did they go to the same school? The, uh,

Fred Mashaal (00:35:39):

No. My brothers were older than I, they had done their schooling in Baghdad.

Henry Green (00:35:45):

So what did they do in, in a Tehran? What did they,

Fred Mashaal (00:35:49):

They were assisting my father

Henry Green (00:35:50):

Assisting your father and your sister?

Fred Mashaal (00:35:53):

She waited, waited [inaudible] until she married. She got married and then left Iran.

Henry Green (00:35:59):

And where did she go.

Fred Mashaal (00:36:00):

to America

Henry Green (00:36:01):

To America. She married someone

Fred Mashaal (00:36:04):

She married from our community, [HG: from your community and then] she married Albert Mashaal

Henry Green (00:36:09):

Albert, Mashaal. And they went, ah, what year did she marry and leave?

Fred Mashaal (00:36:15):

She got married in 1957. then when she went to America, New York.

Henry Green (00:36:22):

So let me just go back to your home now. Uh, take, for example, Passover, what was Passover like?

Fred Mashaal (00:36:29):

Oh, it was very elaborate. My mother would do everything she has learned from her parents from maybe from a thousand years ago. She would have the Passover table, mind you we were not observant. We never went to synagogue, but we had a Passover table that any rabbi would be proud to be there, all the ingredients and all the tradition. And my father, of course, he knew he knew the, uh, the prayers by heart. [HG: Your father, could he read Hebrew?] Absolutely. In fact, uh, our community in Baghdad, uh, when those who were educated would learn Hebrew, not Arabic ,would learn Hebrew and the way they communicate the Jews from Baghdad, my father's generation and earlier, the way they communicated is they would write each other using Hebrew alphabet, but Arabic sounding. In other words, they spoke Jewish, Arabic at home. So he would write in the same, the same language using Hebrew alphabet.

Henry Green (00:37:52):

So it's like Yiddish, you wrote in Hebrew letters, but it was a German, um, uh, grammar kind of,

Fred Mashaal (00:38:00):

But in our case it was Arabic. [HG: Right. So in your case it would be] Jewish Arabic. Yeah.

Henry Green (00:38:06):

Yeah. So the, so you had, so the, your mother, would you be, she she'd be cooking Iraqi food or Persian?

Fred Mashaal (00:38:12):

Iraqi only.

Henry Green (00:38:13):

Not Persian.

Fred Mashaal (00:38:13):


Henry Green (00:38:16):

And would she do the cooking? [FM: Yeah] Was it a kosher house?

Fred Mashaal (00:38:21):

I, uh, it was called, it was not kosher as I know it now, but all the ingredients were kosher. Everything that came into the house was kosher

Henry Green (00:38:34):

And outside one could eat unkosher, but inside you would have a kosher

Fred Mashaal (00:38:38):

In the house. It was entirely kosher.

Henry Green (00:38:41):

Entirely kosher. Do you remember going to the souk, the market?

Fred Mashaal (00:38:44):

Yeah. Many times. Many times. Yeah.

Henry Green (00:38:47):

What was it like to go shopping? Was it, uh, if you needed certain kinds of food, did you shop for your mother or did the,

Fred Mashaal (00:38:56):

She would do most of the shop shopping. I was go and help or one of my brothers, or she would take a servant

Henry Green (00:39:06):

If, um, what about, uh, Rosh Hashanah, what was Rosh Hashanah like do you remember?

Fred Mashaal (00:39:12):

Again, a very elaborate table, very elaborate table, as elaborate as I've seen any time in my life, very proper. And all the prayers, [HG: did friends come over] from people from out of town would be invited [HG: so more out of town,]visitors from out of town, from Europe, from Baghdad, from occasionally. If there was a friend, a relative from out of town, he would be a guest.

Henry Green (00:39:44):

And the, did you learn Hebrew? Did you learn how to read Hebrew?

Fred Mashaal (00:39:48):

Yeah, they taught us, uh, not in my, not the American community school, in the Iraqi, um, Iraqi community school and, and synagogue. Yeah. We took some courses, especially, especially after the establishment of the state of Israel became very popular to pick up Hebrew.

Henry Green (00:40:11):

So you would go there once a week to learn Hebrew or every day or-

Fred Mashaal (00:40:15):

I don't recall. It was informal, informal and brief. [HG: Did you have a bar mitzvah?] Uh, good question. Uh, in my community, in Iran, nobody had a bar mitzvah. It just, we did not practice, but, but the day before I left Tehran, the day before, my father, may he rest in peace, he said, not so fast. You're not going away so fast. Hold on. He came over and he came to our living room and he brought with him a tallit and a and siddur and, uh, the tefillin and he said, I'm gonna make [chuckles], he said, he put on, I'm gonna make you a bar mitzvah. And he put on the tefillin for me and the tallit. And he said, read after me the Shema. And when I'm finished, he said, you're now bar mitzvah'd [laughter].

Henry Green (00:41:29):

And, and, uh, when, when do you leave Tehran then, what was the date?

Fred Mashaal (00:41:35):

It was on a Friday, if I recall, ]HG: what year?] 1955 and September 10 or something. [HG: Why did you leave] to go to school in America to go, uh, to go, I was, I was an overachiever in high school and I would take classes with boys or boys and girls who were, say a year or two older than I, and the, uh, school, uh, advisor at the time, an American, he, he, he said I could go to, he got me accepted. I did not make an application. He did it on my behalf. He said I would be accepted that at Dartmouth, Lafayette and some other school, I don't recall. And I chose Lafayette, uh, because it was the closest school to New York City where my father had friends. Uh, so that's the only reason I picked, otherwise at the time, I didn't know, New York from Pennsylvania, from L I would, I wouldn't know. And, and, and, uh, yeah.

Henry Green (00:43:07):

How did the, how did you pay to go to a school in the States?

Fred Mashaal (00:43:11):

My father would send me funds. Sure. [HG: So your father sent you funds] oh all the time. Yeah.

Henry Green (00:43:19):

And, uh, and you lived in a dormitory.

Fred Mashaal (00:43:21):

I lived in a dormitory with a, in the dormitory and it was traumatic early on. It was traumatic because for the first time in my life, I was away from my family for the very first time in my life. I was away from my family. It was very traumatic early on, but I got to like, it got used to it. And, uh, and I, I gravitated almost immediately at Lafayette almost immediately. I gravitated to Jewish students and we were like a clique, um, felt very comfortable with, it felt like almost family. And this is the beauty of Judaism in my time. Uh,

Henry Green (00:44:19):

How was your, uh, you spoke English in, in, in, uh, Tehran, but really your language is Judaeo Arabic, [overlap] English at school, but you didn't speak English

Fred Mashaal (00:44:32):

We started to speak English. The, the, the students from my school amongst us Iraqis, I mean, Jews, Jewish people from my ethnic.

Henry Green (00:44:41):

When you would go home, you'd be speaking Judaeo Arabic

Fred Mashaal (00:44:44):

Judaeo, Arabic, but, but even siblings at home would speak English.

Henry Green (00:44:49):

So what, when you went to Lafayette, [FM: yes] there was no Judaeo-Arabic. It was all [FM: all English] Did you find that difficult?

Fred Mashaal (00:44:57):

No, my English was perfect. [overlap] I told you the missionaries did a good job of teaching us.

Henry Green (00:45:07):

And did you, did you, um, what did you study at the university? What subject [FM: business] And was that hard or easy? Was it, [FM: no, it was easy] So let me, let me just deal with another subject then. When you, uh, you came in 1942. So, uh, 1948, you're now 12 years old and the state of Israel is created. Do you remember what that was like when you were living in Tehran?

Fred Mashaal (00:45:37):

Yeah. I remember my father leaning over a radio, radios were big at the time, and almost hugging it, uh, listening to every word coming out of that radio, listening to BBC mid from the middle East at the time of establishment of the state of Israel. Very, very, um, the, it wasn't an important event in the lives of every Jew, I suppose.

Henry Green (00:46:10):

And did you have a feeling, did your father ever say, Oh, let's go move to Israel. Let's leave Tehran.

Fred Mashaal (00:46:16):

My father, I was, as I said, there was an age difference and my brothers were much closer. I mean, uh, age wise to my father, but I do recall nearly all the time. My father was planning to go to Israel. I mean, I never heard the word Zionist, never at home, but he must have been a Zionist. Cause everything he did was next year, we're going to Israel and I'll recall also he was working. We were doing well. He was doing well in Iran and prospering. Uh, but at the same time he was sending over furniture, uh, furniture to furnish a house. He sent over a refrigerator. He sent carpet on, on the assumption that next year he's going, but business and circumstance presented him and he never went to Israel. I mean, he, he visited Israel briefly along with two other, uh, Iranian, uh, Jewish, uh, people from, uh, the Iraqi Jews from our community. He visited Israel in 1950 as a guest of the Israeli governmen at the time

Henry Green (00:47:48):

He went from Tehran to Israel as a guest in 1950

Fred Mashaal (00:47:51):

Uh, yes. Uh, he flew, uh, uh, uh, to see the life in Israel and business prospect. That's the only time, uh, apart from that, he never, he never, he did not go back. [HM: Did your mother ever visit Israel?] Yes. When did she visit? She visited um, and I don't recall one in the past, but when I was, uh, in Canada in 1975, my older brother Maurice brought my mother to Israel for, to undergo surgery, medical procedure. And I went from Montreal to Israel, 1975.

Henry Green (00:48:43):

And that's the only time your mother was there.

Fred Mashaal (00:48:47):

She went back again. I think that she, she, she would come to the States to visit my sister and stay with her a few months and then go back to Tehran.

Henry Green (00:49:00):

Oh, so she lived, was living in Tehran. She never left Tehran?

Fred Mashaal (00:49:04):

No. Well, at the end I left my family. Uh, my depa- my departure from Iran was permanent from my, from my family as well.

Henry Green (00:49:19):

Right so, so let me just in my mind, 55, you go to Lafayette. It's permanent. Okay. We'll go back. Your sister gets married in 57, goes to New Jersey and permanent. [FM: Yes] Your father and mother are still in Tehran and your two brothers. [FM: that is correct] Okay. Now, because I'm talking about Israel. So your father comes one visit 1950 to Israel, that's it? You said?

Fred Mashaal (00:49:45):

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Henry Green (00:49:47):

Mother and father are still in Tehran. [FM: Yes] And does your mother and father does your, when your father, when does your father pass? When does he die?

Fred Mashaal (00:49:58):

My father passed in January, 1964

Henry Green (00:50:04):

And he was always in Tehran. Did he ever live, leave around?

Fred Mashaal (00:50:09):

And the only time, uh, he left and at that stage in his life, he traveled a lot earlier, earlier. I traveled a lot at that stage in his life. In 1959, he came over to America, to New York, uh, to visit my sister who had just given birth. My father and mother together came from Tehran to New York to visit my sister and attend her birth. And at the same time, he came to Montreal with my mother, uh, to be with his, uh, lifelong friend Menashe Mashaal. And he stayed with Menashe. He stayed in his house, uh, maybe two months until he went back to Tehran and he made a, made some investment in Montreal. Yeah.

Henry Green (00:51:18):

And in 64 he then passes

Fred Mashaal (00:51:21):

64, he passes. Yeah. And his best friend passes a year later in 65. [overlap] Menashe.

Henry Green (00:51:29):

So, so who was his friend, but his cousin also.

Fred Mashaal (00:51:34):

Lifelong. Yeah. Lifelong second cousin, I think. Yeah.

Henry Green (00:51:40):

So your mother now is alone in Tehran, or is the brother still living there.

Fred Mashaal (00:51:47):

Oh. Uh, that was he, they came up, they visited in 59. So they stayed in Tehran. [HG: Yes.] My mother would occasionally would visit New York to be with my sister and the grandchildren and, and she would go back. And this went on until the revolution in Tehran, [HG: which revolution?] Iranian revolution in 19 seven, started. [overlap] Yeah. Yeah. Started about it started all the problems started in 78 and the overthrow of the shah in 1980. Now I have to tell you, uh, having lived in Iran a good number of years and knowing hundreds of other Iraqis, like me, who also lived in Iran at the same time as I, and also much who stayed on much later, including my brother's, life in Iran was fantastic before the revolution was fantastic for us. For those Jews who fled Iraq, uh, business was good. Very good. Uh, there was no antisemitism whatsoever. None, none. Uh, the shah was very good to the Jews. El Al would fly regularly between Tehran and Televiv nonstop. Regularly, uh I think they had maybe three, four five non-stops a week, uh, carrying passengers, tourists, and, and merchandise, uh, living in Tehran before the revolution was like living in a European city. And this, every one of us would concur

Henry Green (00:53:54):

Between 1955 and 1978 or 79 and revolution. [FM:Yeah] Period of 20 plus years. [FM: Yeah] Do you ever go back to visit Tehran?

Fred Mashaal (00:54:03):

Only in 1975 and 1978

Henry Green (00:54:10):

And you went back, why did you go back?

Fred Mashaal (00:54:12):

And too, I went back to visit to visit family. Um, [HG: and how long did you stay?] Two weeks.

Henry Green (00:54:23):

So you visited family and you got some sense of when you went in 78, there were problems

Fred Mashaal (00:54:29):

They were had started. People were restless, uncomfortable.

Henry Green (00:54:34):

Did you suggest to your mother to leave them?

Fred Mashaal (00:54:37):

No. No, but my brothers were concerned and they along with maybe 1500 others of, from the community, because by that time, the community has grown to some 1500. Uh, they were concerned watching the news on a daily basis and they were planning on leaving, uh, making preparations. And in fact, uh, after the revolution, the entire community, uh, left the entire entire community, amazing

Henry Green (00:55:13):

When did your mother leave.

Fred Mashaal (00:55:16):

She came with my brother, they left, my brother made his way to Canada by way of, he took them, they, went to Tel Aviv from Tehran to Tel Aviv, and they spent a few months in Tel Aviv then he came to Montreal, [HG: which year was that?] 1980, early, 1980 [HG: and your other brother, what happened?] My other brother went to London [HG: and what year was, did he go to London] 1980

Henry Green (00:55:45):

And what happened with, uh, their business,

Fred Mashaal (00:55:49):

Uh, wrapped up. Uh, they just [overlap] Yeah. Yeah. Whatever business. Yeah. [overlap] They send their money yeah

Henry Green (00:56:01):

What happened to their homes?

Fred Mashaal (00:56:04):

Their homes? They were rent- they were renting.

Henry Green (00:56:07):

So whatever furniture did they sell or did they

Fred Mashaal (00:56:09):

Yeah. They they left behind. Um, my brother, I have a story to tell you about my brother, Edward, who was the last one to leave Iran, uh, after the revolution. And when Khomeini first came, Khomeini, he flew in from Paris to Tehran, the Shah is already sick and away out of town. And there was a period of really lawlessness in Iran, no law and order none. And my brother one afternoon, he was, he had a lot of friends and he went to his best friend's apartment. Along with a third, there were three of them were in the apartment one afternoon.

Fred Mashaal (00:57:09):

And, uh, I can tell you their names. Uh, Edward Dangoor was one of them. My brother, Edward. He went into the apartment of Edward Dangoor and uh, Meir, Meir uh, the name will come to me, three of them in an apartment. And suddenly there was a huge knock on the door. Uh, apparently the neighboring apartment had told the gangs in the streets, uh, they are Jewish spies, uh, like the next door resident, a Muslim went and told people that I have spies next door to me. So they came in hooligans with machine guns and so on. And they roughed up my brother and Edward Dagoor and also Meir, his name will come to me soon. Uh, they rough them up. They said, come with us. We're going to kill you. And then, uh, and then they, the Jews being survivors, they said to them, look, you can look all you want, we are not spies, but they we're not buying any of it. But they told them, look, uh, we have money. We can give you money. And that is something that was attractive. It worked, it worked [chuckles] there, there were safe. They took them with them and they went somewhere. I dunno, the bank or somewhere, give them money and got rid of them. And then, and then of course they never went back to that place.

Henry Green (00:58:55):

So let's go back to your story. So you're in Lafayette, you're there, you get a degree. And then what do you do after your degree at Lafayette? Where do you?

Fred Mashaal (00:59:03):

I was in New York. I was doing a commission business, uh, for my brothers and my father.

Henry Green (00:59:12):

And then did you go back to school?

Fred Mashaal (00:59:14):

I went to school, uh, on, uh, I went to school to Fairleigh Dickinson at the same time until 1971. When I came to try to develop a large piece of land, which we had bought earlier. And, uh, and then I spent my, then I decided to stay in Montreal because I had a, I had an instant family in Montreal, the Mashaal family, uh, we were together all the time, almost every day, all the time. And I was trying to develop our land.

Henry Green (00:59:53):

This land was a farm land that was built, which became part of the autoroute or the

Fred Mashaal (01:00:00):

Many things, [HG: many different things] many things [overlap] I was involved really almost on a full time basis. And it was, it was frustrating in that it was not, it was an, I knew it was an unusual parcel because, uh, I could not develop it. Uh, demand was weak. And, um, and, uh, I did not have the option of, of just leaving, dropping it, uh, because I said I did not have that option because the taxes, property taxes were multiplying very faster than, uh, some people, uh, some, and I know some business, some businessmen that I know a business man that he walked away from that property. In other words, uh, considering the prospect and considering how much he needed year after year. And it wasn't the tax assessment, uh, you had to pay it or you would lose the land. And I had to go to court three, four, five times I went to court to, to, to get a, and I won, each time I won. And if I hadn't we'd have lost that parcel.

Henry Green (01:01:28):

You're you, when you went to the States, you got a green card,

Fred Mashaal (01:01:31):

no, I got the green card much later. [overlap] Yeah. [HG: And then you get a green card] Yeah. [HG: did you become an American citizen] in 1972 [overlap] I was at the time living in Canada because I had made the application.

Henry Green (01:01:47):

So why did you want to become an American if you now were living in Canada?

Fred Mashaal (01:01:51):

Because it was a, it was a valuable thing. I'd waited long enough. I was a student and a foreigners at the time. It's a far, far cry from what's happening these days. These days, if you're a foreigner suddenly have acquired rights and you have the entire democratic party defending you. In those days, in those days, I remember as a student at Lafayette, we had to behave ourselves 24 hours a day because of the Dean would hear something negative about you he would not sign a paper that extended my stay in America. And that was the end of my career, uh, education. I would have to leave the country. That's what it used to be.

Henry Green (01:02:52):

So when you were in Lafayette and then in, um, Fairleigh Dickinson, did you use to come to Montreal to visit at all? Would you,

Fred Mashaal (01:03:00):

Yes. I used to visit [HG: often] uh, beginning with 1960, I would visit. [HG: So there was an Iraqi club in Montreal] Yeah, because the Montreal, uh, I knew more people in Montreal then I knew in New York, even though New York, I knew quite a number of people. Montreal became a center really because the Mashaal family and all the other,

Henry Green (01:03:25):

Did you ever go to the Iraqi club that was in Montreal. [FM: Yes. Many times] Many times. [FM: Yeah] Do you remember any stories from that club what would you do there?

Fred Mashaal (01:03:32):

Not really. I was a visitor from New York, but let me tell you, uh, maybe I'm going ahead maybe, or maybe you're about to forget, but a good part of my life. Significant part of my life was living in London. [HG: When you do go to London?] beginning with 1981

Henry Green (01:03:55):

No, we're not there yet. Where you're now in Montreal 71. Okay. So you come to Montreal in 71, you become an American citizen in 72, but you're living in business doing this living. You stay in Montreal? [FM: Yes] Okay. You're living in Montreal. And you are part of the Mashaal business

Fred Mashaal (01:04:14):

Yeah, not Mashaal. Not that family. I was never involved with them in business. Socially I was with them 24 hours a day. [HG: And the business was called?] Separate. [FM: What was it called? The name of the business] the Mashaal family or myself? [HG: your business, your business] I was developing a large tract of land.

Henry Green (01:04:34):

Was it there, Was there a business name to it? Did you have a business? Did you have a, was it a corporation? Was it

Fred Mashaal (01:04:41):

Not that yeah. Later on I set up a company called Fred Moore properties.

Henry Green (01:04:47):

So, so you're in the 1970s. You're living here. Okay. So the 19, do you, do you speak French a little bit. Okay. So Okay. The 1970s is the time of, uh, uh, the Quebecois, Levesque and all this stuff. Tell me about this, do your, know,

Fred Mashaal (01:05:12):

We were together every day until past midnight. Uh, laughing, kibitzing, yeah. [HG: so it wasn't, It didn't have much effect on you] I didn't have much effect on me. No.

Henry Green (01:05:21):

Did you have much contact with the Ashkenazi community at all? Or

Fred Mashaal (01:05:25):

Limited. Very limited. I had no time because it's a huge family. And if I, if I wasn't with this person, I'll be with that person or that.

Henry Green (01:05:35):

did you become a member of a synagogue when you were here? Did you be [FM: yeah] Which synagogue?

Fred Mashaal (01:05:40):

Spanish. [overlap]Yeah. [overlap] And I served as a trustee. [HG:a trustee, in the seventies?] Yes.

Henry Green (01:05:49):

Okay. Now you're saying you went to London. When did you go to London?

Fred Mashaal (01:05:52):

In 1981. My brother had just left Iran. My brother Edward had left Iran permanently and he was in London and I went to see him. No, sorry about that. I went to see him. Yeah. And, uh, I decided uh, I met a girl there from our community, [HG: from the Iraqi community] Yeah, I was. Yeah. And in the seventies I had the, there was an English, a Canadian girl, uh, English background. Uh, we got on very well, but then she went on to Oxford and then I went to London and there, I met an Iraqi girl and we got on very well.

Fred Mashaal (01:06:51):

And then I started to work in London. I would go there as a visitor, but I was working. It was laisser faire. No one cared. As long as, it was wide open, do whatever you want. And, uh, uh, you could, you could buy, sell, the bank. It was all open to anyone. And I was only going as a visitor because I did not want, uh, by, at that time I became a Canadian, Canadian citizen. So not to jeopardize my Canadian citizenship and not to cut my umbilical cord to Canada. I would go there as a visitor, but I would also do work. I would.

Henry Green (01:07:43):

How long did you stay in London? How long

Fred Mashaal (01:07:46):

Back and forth. Back and forth [overlap] innumerable number of times over 27 years.

Henry Green (01:07:53):

So between 1981, uh, say 2005, 10 or

Fred Mashaal (01:07:59):

2012, 2012, February 22nd.

Henry Green (01:08:07):

And you had this same relationship with this woman or?

Fred Mashaal (01:08:11):

Yeah. Off and on. Yeah.

Henry Green (01:08:13):

Off and on. And where did you stay in London [FM: I had an apartment] where?

Fred Mashaal (01:08:20):

Uh, at one time I lived in the Mayfair. And subsequent to that, it was St John's wood

Henry Green (01:08:31):

St. John's Wood. So, so, uh, are, were there people in London? Iraqis?

Fred Mashaal (01:08:37):

Yeah. The community Iraqi, Iraqi community.

Henry Green (01:08:40):

So did you, who would you be friends with? The Dangoors? with David Dangoor and Naim Dangoor who-

Fred Mashaal (01:08:48):

No, no, no. They are different Dangoor, is a big family, Ezra Dangoor. [overlap] and we worked together. He was a partner. [overlap] Yeah.

Henry Green (01:09:00):

And, but you were part of, so you, you knew this whole family there's many Dangoor

Fred Mashaal (01:09:05):

Yeah. But some of them, uh, an extension of the Mashaal family in London, like it was a big family. Also. You got to keep in mind every Mashaal is a, is a relative. Uh, even though we're not, we're not close relatives, distant relatives, but I felt very close to them because we spent so much time together.

Henry Green (01:09:28):

The Mashaal family, uh, it's a big family still?

Fred Mashaal (01:09:31):

Huge, huge family in London. Well, look, uh, when I say Mashaal family, you got to go back to a generation. And for example, let me give you an example. You know, Robbie? [HG: Yes] Fine. Who else do you know? You know, Robbie. Okay. Robbie, take Robbie, [overlap], Victor, Victor has, let me see. He has a cousin in London and that cousin has three daughters. One daughter lives in Montreal, two daughters live in London. So, uh, it's like that.

Henry Green (01:10:24):

But, but when you would be in London back and forth doing business, were these families, that, uh, these cousins were ones that you would go for Shabbat.

Fred Mashaal (01:10:34):

Yeah. Yeah. I would see them quite often. Plus I got to know other members, a substantial number of people who were also from Iraqi Iraq. Absolutely. But they're not, we're different in the sense that we, uh, when I say we, we, are the group that left Baghdad to go to Tehran, and in Tehran, we became a bit of some cohesion [overlap] and we had a common language and these people in London that I met, came directly from Baghdad to London. [overlap] To London. They had no exposure to Iran, but we had a lot in common. We had everything in common, except we, that went to Tehran, we had one extra on them

Henry Green (01:11:26):

So which families, which, who would you be friends with in London? I need you to give me some names. I'm trying to

Fred Mashaal (01:11:31):

The, um, the Gabbay, David Gabbay. There was the, uh, Murad, Murad, um, Zelouf, uh, uh, uh, the Dallals, um, Sofer, uh, Shemtob, Shemtob, um, Shahmoon, uh, Dangoor, Uh Khalastchy. Yeah. Jangeez [ph]. Victor Jangeez, uh, his children, uh,

Henry Green (01:12:35):

We've interviewed, I'd say of those names, we've probably interviewed at least half those people

Fred Mashaal (01:12:39):

Yeah. Yeah. In London. [HG speaks in background] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'm getting, I'm getting, I'm getting to, I'm getting to the, I'm getting, I'm slowly getting to the, when I start to forget quite a bit,

Henry Green (01:12:54):

But no, this is very helpful for Sephardi Voices because you know, it is this, what you're doing is here, there is this group that went of course to London, and there's a group that went to Tehran and then ended up going to London. And so it's, you're bringing pieces together. And this is, and we've interviewed some of these people, um, the Khalastchys, the Dangoors

Fred Mashaal (01:13:16):

Yeah, and that's the third person in Tehran in the apartments. Three of them. When my my brother, Edward Dangoor and [overlap] yeah. Chaim. Chaum. Chaim Meir. Cham Meir. Yeah. The three of them were in the apartment and their neighbor. Uh, there was no law and order. Yeah.

Henry Green (01:13:49):

So let me go to the end now. So you, uh, you basically, Montreal is here you are, you came back this stage, your home. [FM: Yeah] And, and, uh, let me just ask you then some, uh, some last questions. Okay.

Fred Mashaal (01:14:00):


Henry Green (01:14:06):

How do you preserve your Babylonian heritage? Do you preserve it?

Fred Mashaal (01:14:12):

Look. We are, it comes natural. There is no effort. There is zero effort. We're used to our food. We, we, we eat everything with, um, some of us don't eat, uh, for example, things that are not kosher, when I say not kosher no, many of us eat non-kosher, many of us, but, uh, also in a good number of us will eat, um, will not eat prohibited items. There is a difference between non-kosher with so many of us do not touch prohibited. Uh, but many of us out of necessity are not kosher.

Henry Green (01:14:58):

So food is one way you keep your heritage.

Fred Mashaal (01:15:00):

Keep it here, have it, keep it. How do we keep by being together? I suppose, just being together. Yeah. Community just by being together. Really. There's no other practice. And we do look, it crawls on you. It creeps on you, the culture outside culture. Um, it's inevitable.

Henry Green (01:15:19):

How would you define your identity? How, how,

Fred Mashaal (01:15:24):

Um, I don't, I I'm, I consider myself really, uh, I'm not, uh, in, in a sense, I'm not in a normal quote, unquote, uh, I many times I refer to myself as the wandering Jew. I was born in Baghdad. My formative years were in Tehran and then for my education America and then Canada and then England. And, uh, seriously, I spent a good number of years. Uh, well Baghdad, I was born in Baghdad. Iran is a significant part of America is a significant part.

Henry Green (01:16:05):

So how do you call yourself, an American. Do you call yourself a Jew here?

Fred Mashaal (01:16:07):

I really, honestly, honestly, if you asked me to give you an honest answer, I have a problem giving you an honest answer. No, seriously. One of my, I mean, I'm steeped in American culture. I'm steeped in Jewish Baghdadi culture. I'm very much familiar with Iran and its people and ways and mannerisms and, and very much in England, England. Uh, uh, I, I admire, I now I think it's a pity. It's a pity that England will no longer be England, but I very much admired, uh, England, Britain, very much their, their language, their culture, their, uh, everything. I admired everything about England.

Henry Green (01:16:58):

Do you, do you consider yourself you left, um, in 55 to come to America. Do you consider yourself, uh, when you left, uh, you look, do you consider yourself an immigrant? Do you consider yourself a refugee or just a student studying abroad?

Fred Mashaal (01:17:15):

I can't be an immigrant or refugee. I'm, every part an American. I'm, I'm not a refugee. No, no. [HG: So one last question, someone will], and also I rarely experienced because of my lifestyle rarely experienced anti Semitism.

Henry Green (01:17:36):

So one last question someone will, when we put this at the national library,

Fred Mashaal (01:17:41):

I'm sorry, just to go back a bit. I rarely experienced antisemitism, but that's, I think one of the reasons is because of our upbringing, our culture, that always be careful, be careful, don't get involved, don't do this, you know, stay away from, um, things that would make you trouble. Uh, uh, I was never involved in politics and that's why I avoided antisemitism, I suppose.

Henry Green (01:18:15):

So one last question, uh, this will be at the national library. Uh, it's not on video, but it will be audio and people will listen to it. And the idea is to learn about, um, this, this history, this heritage. And so what kind of message would you want to say to these people who will be listening to it?

Fred Mashaal (01:18:46):

Can you help me? Seriously? [overlap] see, I lived an unusual life, unusual in the sense, always being careful, avoid problems, avoid, uh, just my parents always instilled in me, my mother, uh, don't do this and don't do that. Stay away from trouble. Say, once I wrote a letter to the editor in Iran and I had, uh, was very, very innocent, had nothing to do with politics. And I got a big chewing out of my parents. You know, what are you doing? Writing letters to the newspaper. So [laughs] stay away, um, uh, what kind of message

Henry Green (01:19:40):

That, that, that's, that's the message I want to thank you very much.

Fred Mashaal (01:19:43):

Thank you. Thank you. I, I hope I was help. I hope. Thanks a lot. And thank you all to all of you. Good luck.