Gladys Daoud

Cleaned by: Julia Pappo

Transcribed by: Temi

Gladys Daoud: Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1951. Arrived in Beirut in 1971. Arrived in Switzerland in 1971. Arrived in Montreal in September 1971.

Speaker 1 (00:00:00):

Okay. What is your full name?

Speaker 2 (00:00:03):

Gladys Yusra D has Haim.

Speaker 1 (00:00:11):

And was this the name at birth?

Speaker 2 (00:00:13):


Speaker 1 (00:00:14):

And where were you born?

Speaker 2 (00:00:16):

Baghdad. Iraq.

Speaker 1 (00:00:18):

And what was the year?

Speaker 2 (00:00:21):


Speaker 1 (00:00:22):

So first I just want to thank you Gladys for participating in Sephardi Voices and, uh, um, doing this interview because it's so important for, uh, for our, for the heritage of the Sephardi. So let me begin with just a very simple opening question. Okay. Tell me something about your family's background.

Speaker 2 (00:00:47):

Uh, my grandfather was a, a wealthy land owner in Iraq and, uh, he was, uh, murdered by some Arab, uh, hooligans, uh, in 1929. And that kind of, uh, changed the family makeup. It broke the family thatthat is important. And as a result of him being murdered, uh, there a synagogue was built to honour his name and that's, uh, the synagogue, ADA synagogue as my grandfather.

Speaker 1 (00:01:31):

And were you, was your, um, grandfather also born in Baghdad?

Speaker 2 (00:01:37):

I, I am not sure because you are talking about Ottoman empire and if you go further, uh, I am, I was told or I heard, uh, family discussions being that, uh, we were, there was some kind of, uh, Spanish origin and they went around the Mediterranean, so they would have gone to Aleppo, Syria. And from there, uh, migrated ended up in Iraq, but,

Speaker 1 (00:02:08):

And what, what did your grandfather do? Uh, who was a landowner?

Speaker 2 (00:02:12):

You said landowner.

Speaker 1 (00:02:13):

And was that land around Baghdad or some other,

Speaker 2 (00:02:17):

Oh, throughout all the way to Basra

Speaker 1 (00:02:19):

All the way to Basra?

Speaker 2 (00:02:21):


Speaker 1 (00:02:22):

And your, your grandmother, uh, can you tell me something about her?

Speaker 2 (00:02:28):

Uh, she was, uh, she was a housewife, like, uh, all women, uh, she was, uh, left a widow at a young age. She was, uh, illiterate, uh, but, uh, she had great interest in the listening to the news and, uh, she liked to buy stocks, so, Hm. So she would listen to the news and she would call the broker, buy me these stocks and she did well <laugh>.

Speaker 1 (00:02:59):

So you have memories of her

Speaker 2 (00:03:01):


Speaker 1 (00:03:02):

As a small child.

Speaker 2 (00:03:04):


Speaker 1 (00:03:06):

Can you tell me one of your memories?

Speaker 2 (00:03:09):

Uh, well, we used to go and visit, uh, every Saturday and, uh, she, she was bedridden and, uh, uh, so she would go from her, her bed was at that stage in the living room and she would, uh, uh, go from the bed to the couch, which overlooked the, the river and, uh, the street Abu was. And, uh, that was, uh, the next door neighbour was Lisette's grandparents after all, they were, uh, two brothers, my grandfather and Lisette's grandfather were brothers.

Speaker 1 (00:03:49):

And what is your grandmother's name?

Speaker 2 (00:03:52):

Uh, Farha that's where my name comes from. It's a translation of Farha means, uh, uh, gladness joy that some people call me joy because gladness, but, uh, really it's the translation of her name? Farha

Speaker 1 (00:04:11):

Those are your, your, your father's parents?

Speaker 2 (00:04:15):


Speaker 1 (00:04:16):

And what about your, your mother's parents, your mother, your, your, on the maternal side, your grandparents?

Speaker 2 (00:04:21):

Uh, my grandfather on my mother's side, uh, was, uh, uh, the treasurer to the Iraqi government that's, uh, before the far hood. And, uh, so her she's traumatized by what happened during the far hood, because they was, the mob was specifically looking for him because they wanted to have access to the treasury and he, he was in hiding, but luckily his neighbours, Muslim neighbours protected him.

Speaker 1 (00:04:57):

And he, he, um, what was his name?

Speaker 2 (00:05:01):

Ang Schlomo.

Speaker 1 (00:05:02):

And his wife's name?

Speaker 2 (00:05:10):

I can't remember at this point.

Speaker 1 (00:05:13):

And did, um, did, um, they lived also in Baghdad? Yes. And did you also visit them,

Speaker 2 (00:05:21):

Did you speak with them? Yes, a lot. They went there. It was, uh, parallel to my grandfather's name, uh, house on my father's side. One was theirs was on Shire, sad, sad street, which was a main thorough street. And my grandfather on my father's side was Abu was, but they were really parallel at the same height.

Speaker 1 (00:05:45):

Were they relatives

Speaker 2 (00:05:47):

Or no

Speaker 1 (00:05:48):

Relatives. And your, your, um, maternal, uh, grandfather? Yes. Uh, who worked for the treasury? Yes. So he was like a civil servant yes. In the trade. And who had worked in the government?

Speaker 2 (00:06:00):


Speaker 1 (00:06:01):

And their, as far as you know, they also were born in Baghdad?

Speaker 2 (00:06:07):

Yes. And

Speaker 1 (00:06:08):

His family. So your, your, um, your parents. So tell me a bit about your parents. So begin with your father. He's born in Baghdad.

Speaker 2 (00:06:20):

What's his name? Yes, Joseph. He was born in Baghdad. Uh, he left at the age of 11 to go study in France because, uh, he had an uncle that had a farm in the south of France, Exxon Povo. So he was kind of, uh, looking at three brothers, went to France to study.

Speaker 1 (00:06:46):

So what, what year was he born?

Speaker 2 (00:06:48):

He was 1909.

Speaker 1 (00:06:50):

So 19. So after world war I around 1920, then

Speaker 2 (00:06:53):

Yes. He

Speaker 1 (00:06:54):

Goes to,

Speaker 2 (00:06:55):

To France, France.

Speaker 1 (00:06:56):

And where in France, do

Speaker 2 (00:06:57):

You know him? Uh, south of France for starters. Uh, but when he was, uh, studying medicine, he was in Paris.

Speaker 1 (00:07:06):

So he gets a, um, medical degree in Paris?

Speaker 2 (00:07:10):


Speaker 1 (00:07:11):

And, um, so your, your father really, uh, from the time he, he is pre puberty as were, uh, really has a French, uh, culture and education?

Speaker 2 (00:07:23):


Speaker 1 (00:07:25):

Okay. And your mother, her name

Speaker 2 (00:07:27):

And mother. Uh, Marcel Shlomo. She she's born in Baghdad and she grew up in Baghdad. She went to the Alliance Francais. She studied there. Um, she had a, a bra that's just short of Palau, but that was at the time. But even that was, uh, unusual for women to, to, to study that much, but they were starting to be, uh, liberated. And, uh, in fact that, that she was going to school with, uh, my cousin who introduced her to my father.

Speaker 1 (00:08:09):

Uh, so the, huh. So let's go back to your father. Why did your father come back to, to Baghdad?

Speaker 2 (00:08:15):

Very good question. When he finished his degree in, uh, medicine, he went to see his professor and he said, what do I do now? Because, uh, for a doctor, uh, in France, you would buy the practice of a, a retiring doctor and take over the patients and continue from there. But, uh, it was being at the time, like the Nazis were, uh, there were putting pressure and, uh, there was a lot of bad things happening and, uh, the atmosphere is not right. And his professor literally asked him, he said, what is your family name? And he said, uh Haim. And, uh, he says, well, where do you expect to go with a Jewish name? So he told him you're better off going back to Baghdad. So, uh, he did he, uh, and, uh, he brought to Baghdad the first x-ray machine ever in Iraq, because at the time it had just been invented and it's just being used. So, uh, he went back, he opened a practice in, uh, Baghdad, and he, he was doing, uh, x-ray machine as part of his practice. Because at the time you did more than one thing, you didn't specialize.

Speaker 1 (00:09:35):

And do you know the year he actually came back to back then?

Speaker 2 (00:09:38):

Uh, 30, it was after his father was assassinated. So it was 30, 1 32 thereabouts, his two younger brothers who were also studying there. Uh, unfortunately they ended up in the concentration camps

Speaker 1 (00:09:56):

During world war II. Yeah. And did they survive the

Speaker 2 (00:10:00):

Concentration? Well, one of them, the, the news is, uh, he survived. So he, he, he was like, they liberated them from the concentration camp, but when, uh, he was in Paris and Paris was taken over again, like, uh, there was a, a, a two day hiatus where the Nazi, he, he got shot in the street or anyway, they could not determine for sure what happened to him, but that's when he disappeared.

Speaker 1 (00:10:31):

So your, your father never met his, his brothers

Speaker 2 (00:10:34):

Again then? No after that? No, but he was lucky to have escaped.

Speaker 1 (00:10:41):

So how did your parents meet, tell me that story.

Speaker 2 (00:10:46):

Um, you are dealing with big families. My father was, uh, the youngest in his family of maybe 12 siblings. Uh, so his, uh, older, uh, the older sisters were already married and had children. And that's why, when I say my cousin, my cousin was, uh, much older and she was going to the Alliance France with my mother and she introduced them.

Speaker 1 (00:11:16):

So this would've been early thirties.

Speaker 2 (00:11:19):

Uh, more like forties. They only got married in, uh, 45, 19 45.

Speaker 1 (00:11:24):

So this, they, they actually met them during the war years.

Speaker 2 (00:11:27):

Yeah. Uh, after the warrior, after the war,

Speaker 1 (00:11:32):

After the war

Speaker 2 (00:11:33):

45? Yeah. Yeah. 45. Well, almost the end of the war. And, uh, my father was in the Iraqi army.

Speaker 1 (00:11:42):

Your father was in the Iraqi

Speaker 2 (00:11:43):

Army? Yes. He was a colonial in the Iraqi army. And I have a picture of him wearing a army.

Speaker 1 (00:11:52):

I, I hope when you go back to Montreal, you'll scan some of these

Speaker 2 (00:11:55):

Pictures for us. I can send it to you have it on my phone.

Speaker 1 (00:11:57):

Oh, great.

Speaker 2 (00:11:58):

If you can scan. Yeah. I will send, I, I can, those are things

Speaker 1 (00:12:01):

That would be precious

Speaker 2 (00:12:02):

For us. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:12:04):

So your, your, your father goes back, I'm just trying to follow his, uh, career and he's a doctor. And in what, uh, section of, uh, Baghdad, do you know where he practiced?

Speaker 2 (00:12:16):

Yeah. Uh, it's uh, uh, it's not far from, uh, my father's, uh, my, because, like I said, there was a synagogue erected for my grandfather when he was murdered. So his clinic, uh, actually, this is the last, the second clinic. Uh, uh, his first clinic was in Shire Rashid, and yeah, there's many pictures of sh Rashid. Like it's, uh, there was, uh, the department store or RO the back, and it was not far from there. And, uh, yeah, we used to go there as children and, uh, every time they had a parade or whatever, we used to hang in the balcony and watch the parade.

Speaker 1 (00:13:05):

Wow. And your, your, um, mother, she, after, after marriage, um, was a housewife

Speaker 2 (00:13:13):

Or housewife. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:13:17):

So they get married in 45. And, uh, do you have any, um, brothers or sisters?

Speaker 2 (00:13:22):

I have one brother. He was born 1946.

Speaker 1 (00:13:27):

And, and then, um, you were born a few years later.

Speaker 2 (00:13:30):


Speaker 1 (00:13:32):

So, um, what I I'd like to sort of explore is, um, that life of you growing up. So you, um, which year were you

Speaker 2 (00:13:44):

Born? 1951.

Speaker 1 (00:13:46):

So, so you're born, um, as the community begins to disappear

Speaker 2 (00:13:54):

After the community, most of the community had disappeared because they went to Israel and they, uh, they were, they lost their citizenship. Uh, the, the majority, the ones that stayed were they either they owned assets, which was the case of my family. So they had no interest of leaving everything and starting from scratch. So they stayed plus my family, uh, uh, they already, my aunts were settled in the United States and in England and Canada.

Speaker 1 (00:14:32):

So you, you were saying that, um, most of the community had already gone yes. At the time you were

Speaker 2 (00:14:39):

Born? Yes.

Speaker 1 (00:14:40):

So, so you're growing up in the fifties, right. And where are you living, uh, at this point with, in your grandparents house? In

Speaker 2 (00:14:49):

Your house? No, no. We had our own house. And

Speaker 1 (00:14:51):

Where, what section?

Speaker 2 (00:14:53):

It was, they were all walking distance. Uh, it was on a street that gave on, uh, this, the, the river DLA and Abu was, was right there. So, uh, and the, there was, uh, I remember there was a big hotel hotel, B dad that opened, and that was a, uh, a major development.

Speaker 1 (00:15:20):

And so from your home, could you see the S from your

Speaker 2 (00:15:23):

Drink before your yes.

Speaker 1 (00:15:25):

So what was your bedroom like? For example?

Speaker 2 (00:15:28):

Uh, well, you are talking over your eyes, so you have to talk about sleeping on the roof, which is, uh, a lot of people find that notion, uh, strange, but, uh, yeah, we, we slept on the roof in the summer because that's, uh, there was no air conditioning. Well, there was, we had air conditioning, but it was very limited. So you couldn't really sleep comfortably in the house. So you slept on the roof and it was quite an experience because the roof, you talk to the neighbours, you were able to see everything that's going on around, uh, it was a, a social, uh, thing to be, to sleep on the roof. You knew everything that happened in the neighbours, you knew who was dating, who, who was, uh, cheating on, who, who was, uh, seeing who it was quite, uh, something.

Speaker 1 (00:16:22):

And, um, do, do you have any special memories of, of particular events that happened on the roof?

Speaker 2 (00:16:30):

No. No, but what I could tell you is that, uh, uh, the neighbours, like the, the, we had Jewish neighbours across the street. We had Muslim neighbours on one side, and we had Christian neighbours on the other side. So it was, everybody lived together in harmony. There was nothing, no hostility, nothing at the time that, uh, you're talking about the fifties. So in the fifties, people li lived in peace.

Speaker 1 (00:16:58):

So when you in the winter came down to your,

Speaker 2 (00:17:02):

Your yeah. Your bedroom, right. Did

Speaker 1 (00:17:04):

You, did you have your

Speaker 2 (00:17:05):

Own bedroom? No. I shared it with my brother.

Speaker 1 (00:17:08):

And what did that room look like? Do

Speaker 2 (00:17:11):

You, it was big, very big. And, uh, well, since my brother was older, he was already, you know, uh, he had his, uh, uh, uh, working table were organized with his books and, uh, with his lamp and the, so I was the intruder and I had to <laugh>, he also had all the toys and I had to have special permission to play with his toys. Uh, it, we were, but we were sharing.

Speaker 1 (00:17:39):

And did you have help in the house?

Speaker 2 (00:17:41):


Speaker 1 (00:17:42):

Uh, was it a, uh, live-in help or,

Speaker 2 (00:17:45):

Uh, at, at when we were very young, yes, it was live-in help, but, but, uh, slowly it was turned to be a daily help that came. And was it

Speaker 1 (00:17:54):

A, a Muslim, a Christian, a, a Jewish person

Speaker 2 (00:17:57):

Who was, no, it was a, a Christian, uh, from Al KSH, uh, you must have heard of, yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:18:04):

And did you have a chauffeur?

Speaker 2 (00:18:06):

Uh, no, no chauffeur? No. You

Speaker 1 (00:18:08):

Had a

Speaker 2 (00:18:08):

Car? Yeah, we had that car Zo. That wasn't <laugh>.

Speaker 1 (00:18:18):

So, um, what, what are some of your earliest memories do you?

Speaker 2 (00:18:23):

No. My earliest memory is funny because, uh, at, when the revolution happened in 1958, I was seven years old and I had no concept of, uh, government or other religions or anything. Everybody, everything was a big happy family for me at the time. And, uh, then you had the news on, on the radio that, uh, the king was murdered and, uh, uh, the government was toppled and other people were, and the king was very young. He was barely 20 years old. So, uh, I kind of, of, I felt, you know, like, you know, I should be concerned. I should grieve. I should feel bad. And then, you know, like, uh, the comment from around me said, Hey, that's not our business. We're Jewish, they're Muslims. It's none of our business. So that was a wake up call that we were different.

Speaker 1 (00:19:25):

And did you talk to your parents about this?

Speaker 2 (00:19:28):

Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:19:29):

And your brother.

Speaker 2 (00:19:31):


Speaker 1 (00:19:32):

And there was a kind of consensus that being Jewish sort of, we had to look, uh, act differently maybe or

Speaker 2 (00:19:39):

Not. Yeah, we were, we were, we stayed out of trouble.

Speaker 1 (00:19:44):

So it was sort of like, you now had a kind of radar that

Speaker 2 (00:19:47):

You yes.

Speaker 1 (00:19:47):

Didn't have

Speaker 2 (00:19:48):

Before. That's correct. Yeah. So that then you, I started to take in, uh, my surroundings in a different with that, uh, lens that, uh, there's Jews and there's non-Jews and trying to understand, uh, and, uh, the, the, I have another memory was, uh, I was at my, uh, grandmother's grandfather, my mother's grandparents' house, which gave on them thorough street. And there was, uh, a religious, uh, a yearly religious, uh, not parade, but, not demonstration, but a, you know, uh, a procession. And this is when, uh, they bear their shoulders, their backs, and they hit themselves. Uh, they come from Carly, uh, she act and, uh, they hit themselves with, uh, so, uh, uh, we were on the balcony and as kids, you know, you see that, and our parents afraid that we would laugh or make a sound, and that would be misinterpreted. So they were, were cautioned to strictly be quiet or else, but it was a very strange thing to, to witness,

Speaker 1 (00:21:04):

Uh, you, you know, Christians at Easter, um, if you go to Jerusalem or other places, um, they also hit themselves. Oh. Um, as part of a religious ceremony that, um, uh, identifies with Jesus. Um, and so you, you have these traditions in, in different ways. Yeah. But, but I like you when I first saw this and I was much older <laugh> it was totally out of my experience.

Speaker 2 (00:21:37):

Well, here in this case, it's because these people, or this sec, uh, they were trying to elect, uh, a success act to the pro, not the, the Khalifa, uh, alibi. And he had, uh, one of his sons was they, uh, uh, called him in to Cara and they wanted to elect him. And in the end they killed him. Oh. And they never forgave themselves. And so this procession was to mark how, sorry they are. They cannot forgive themselves. And really, I mean, blood on you, you, you see blood on their backs. Wow. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:22:22):

So when you, um, um, were growing up in the, you know, fifties, um, say, uh, even to the early sixties, um, you know, before you were 12, 13, um, did your parents have friends over at

Speaker 2 (00:22:38):

All? Yes.

Speaker 1 (00:22:39):

And what, what for events or just social, or did they play, uh, I don't know about backgammon or gin or what, what did your mother and father do? What were the kind of social

Speaker 2 (00:22:50):

Activities? Well, my father worked, uh, long hours because, uh, his clinic was open until eight o'clock at night, so it didn't leave much room for, uh, to going to clubs, uh, which was the communal, uh, uh, preferred, uh, distraction was to go to the club and to, uh, dance, to Zorba, uh, all that. But, uh, my parents were more, but they received a lot of people in, in the house. They, they would, we had a big garden and, uh, so the, the garden would have, you know, receive at least 40 50 people and they served dinner and food and all that. And it was very nice. That was more, and they got invited as well. And, uh, during the Jewish holidays for Russia, Shana, and, uh, and Passover, uh, we used to make the rounds of the houses. Like, you know, you go and visit all of your family and friends, and as kids, you would get treats to every, at every house that you stop at, you get treats. Uh, so it was a way of getting to know everybody and, uh, also have fun.

Speaker 1 (00:24:05):

So, uh, so there must have been a whole number of kids then that you sort of hung out with in these various homes that, uh, you

Speaker 2 (00:24:14):

Visited of course.

Speaker 1 (00:24:15):

And so tell me what a Shabbat would be like then what would be a Shabbat Lev be like Friday night, uh, at your home,

Speaker 2 (00:24:23):

Uh, dinner, dinner. And, uh, I wouldn't say there was much prayers. Uh, weren't very religious in Iraq. Uh, most of the Jews were not very religious, but then there was the synagogue and we'd go every Saturday to the synagogue. Uh, and as a kid, I was hanging with friends. I had friends at the synagogue and you go up the, the, the men sat downstairs and the women sat upstairs. Uh,

Speaker 1 (00:24:52):

And did, did, um, your mother, uh, cook anything special for Friday night or did they help cook it? Or how did, uh,

Speaker 2 (00:25:01):

Yeah, they were, they served the, to eat, which is, uh, special for, uh, because you prepared it ahead of time and, uh, you served it, uh, on Saturday.

Speaker 1 (00:25:12):

And did your, did your mother actually do some of the cooking or did, uh, uh, or was it the, the, uh, the help that did that?

Speaker 2 (00:25:21):

Um, my mother supervised. Supervised.

Speaker 1 (00:25:23):

Yeah. And did you help at all? Did you go in the kitchen and help out at all?

Speaker 2 (00:25:27):

Well, I was hanging around my mother, so, uh, <laugh> uh, I, I got to learn how to make, uh, Turkish coffee. That was my specialty. I was trusted with preparing Turkish coffee as I grew up. Uh, but, uh, that's the extent of, uh, cooking?

Speaker 1 (00:25:46):

What about, uh, Hanukah was Hanukah, uh, anything special or not?

Speaker 2 (00:25:51):

No, not really. And

Speaker 1 (00:25:52):


Speaker 2 (00:25:53):

Passover, definitely because, uh, you didn't eat bread, leaving bread for, uh, the period, uh, of the Passover.

Speaker 1 (00:26:02):

And, and would, uh, your parents go to some effort to clean the house or

Speaker 2 (00:26:07):

Yes, yes. Yes. They made sure there's no bread crumbs, no, nothing. That, and yeah, we didn't use, I wouldn't say we used special dishes, uh, two sets of dishes. No, it wasn't to that extent, but we cleaned the house and cleaned the fridge.

Speaker 1 (00:26:23):

And would you have a Seder at your house?

Speaker 2 (00:26:25):


Speaker 1 (00:26:26):

Yes. Would people be invited over at all or, or with more

Speaker 2 (00:26:29):

Family? No more family. It was a family

Speaker 1 (00:26:31):

Grandparents too, or

Speaker 2 (00:26:33):

No. No, because, um, my both my grandfathers had passed on before I was, uh, growing up. So, uh, the, and the two grandmothers were bedridden, so I, no, they did not come. So it was strictly family. More

Speaker 1 (00:26:50):

Small. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (00:26:52):

Yeah. I had my aunt, my aunt came my mother's sister because she was still single. And, uh, so she used to come join us.

Speaker 1 (00:27:03):

So here you are growing up in the house. Your mother went to Alfas, your father obviously grew up in France. What language did they speak in the house?

Speaker 2 (00:27:13):


Speaker 1 (00:27:13):


Speaker 2 (00:27:15):

Dialect. Jewish dialect. Arabic, right.

Speaker 1 (00:27:17):

So did YouDo Arabic dialect? Yeah. And did they ever speak French together?

Speaker 2 (00:27:22):

Only when they want didn't want us to understand

Speaker 1 (00:27:25):

Only when they didn't want you to understand?

Speaker 2 (00:27:27):

Ah, there was something, uh, special, right,

Speaker 1 (00:27:30):

Right. Um, and so, um, did they know English at

Speaker 2 (00:27:35):

All? Yes.

Speaker 1 (00:27:36):

And where did they learn their English?

Speaker 2 (00:27:39):

They were very proficient in English, both of them.

Speaker 1 (00:27:43):

And so they, they, uh, but they spoke French to, uh, for you not to understand thing. Yeah. And we, and you heard English in the house at all, or? No? Yeah, because of their speaking or people coming?

Speaker 2 (00:27:55):

Yeah. No, no, because they spoke, but no, mostly it was Arabic, uh, the Jewish dialect

Speaker 1 (00:28:03):

Mostly. And that's. And did you, um, uh, when they went out yeah. Did they change the dialect to, uh, just Iraq or did they keep to the

Speaker 2 (00:28:14):

No only used the Iraqi, uh, when you were talking to Muslims. Uh, but when you were talking to the community, other Jews, you you're stuck to your Judeo dialect.

Speaker 1 (00:28:30):

So did, did your, uh, your friends? Yes. You said they were Christian one side and Muslim on another whatever. And did, um, were your friends, your kids you hung out with, were they Jewish as well as Muslim and Christian?

Speaker 2 (00:28:47):

My friends was strictly from the school.

Speaker 1 (00:28:50):

Strictly from the school? Yeah. So what school did you go to?

Speaker 2 (00:28:53):

Uh, elementary was Manheim Dan and, uh, uh, secondary was Franki school.

Speaker 1 (00:29:01):

So the only kids you were hanging out with were the ones from the school? Yeah. So did, did, did your, did your, uh, parents have Muslims in the house or Christians in the house?

Speaker 2 (00:29:12):

Very rarely. Very rarely. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:29:15):

So it was basically a Jewish environment? Yes. Yes. And in your case, nearly

Speaker 2 (00:29:18):

Exclusively? Yes.

Speaker 1 (00:29:20):

And, and, um, uh, your, your, your regular day then would be, you would, uh, what, um, get a bus to school

Speaker 2 (00:29:30):

Or bus? Bus to school. Bus to school? Yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:29:33):

And then you'd spend the day at school? Yes. And then come home? Yes. And,

Speaker 2 (00:29:37):

And do your homework have supper. And,

Speaker 1 (00:29:41):

And did you have TV in your house?

Speaker 2 (00:29:43):


Speaker 1 (00:29:44):

So you've had TV already? Yes. And did, um, what about, um, um, there were social clubs that the, uh, yes. Did you, did you, did you attend that at all for extracurricular

Speaker 2 (00:29:59):

Swimming was at the, the YMCA. We were, I was, uh, we were members of the YMCA because of, uh, the swimming. So we went swimming there

Speaker 1 (00:30:10):

And that would be a weekly kind of, uh, activity

Speaker 2 (00:30:12):

Or in the summer, more than that was almost a daily activity.

Speaker 1 (00:30:18):

It's true. It's hot.

Speaker 2 (00:30:20):

Hot. Absolutely.

Speaker 1 (00:30:21):

And, and, and at the YMCA though, there was, it wasn't just Jewish. It was

Speaker 2 (00:30:26):

Muslims and Christians. No, but there were lots of the Jewish, uh, mostly Jewish <laugh>. It was mostly Jewish. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:30:33):

And you would go also Saturday, Sunday. Uh, we do like go to synagogue in the morning and then swimming in the afternoon

Speaker 2 (00:30:40):

Kind of thing. Mm, no, no. Saturday we didn't go swimming

Speaker 1 (00:30:43):

Saturdays, no swimming.

Speaker 2 (00:30:45):

We also swim in the river, I, I learned to swim in the river.

Speaker 1 (00:30:50):

Ah, do you have memories of that at all?

Speaker 2 (00:30:51):

Absolutely. Because about you? Uh, it was a Muslim, uh, guy. Uh, there were three of them and we were like maybe 10, 15 kids that, uh, our parents would take us there. The mothers usually, and quite early in the morning before it got too hot and, uh, we were thrown in the river. And now you have floaties. The floaties at the time were from the Palm, from date trees. We called it curb was that, I don't know what you call it, but, uh, they would wrap cloth around it so that it, it doesn't, uh, uh, rub you or, and you wore it on your back to learn to swim. And then slowly as you became more proficient, they would take, uh, take them off.

Speaker 1 (00:31:49):

So it's like a, uh, life preserve <laugh>. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (00:31:52):

Yeah. But it was, it was, uh, like it, it was very important, uh, exercise because, uh, that's how you developed, you know, like you're thrown in there and you had to fend for yourself, uh, or else, you know, and, uh, and you also, like you are, get having confidence, developing confidence in yourself and you have had goals to achieve like, uh, our goal was, uh, when you managed to swim without, uh, any, uh, floaties and to cross the river entirely, that was something else. Like that was something you really felt proud. The tiger river. Yes.

Speaker 1 (00:32:32):


Speaker 2 (00:32:32):

Yes. That was, uh, if you did that, you deserved the special, uh, treatment. You, uh, you made it. And, and so everybody, we all tried, we had to do it, we had to do it. There was no tools about it. Our parents expected us to do it.

Speaker 1 (00:32:50):

And what age did you manage finally to get

Speaker 2 (00:32:52):

Across? Can't remember, but certainly like things, uh, after the revolution, 1958. So I was seven between seven and 10, like that activity dwindled and disappeared. We didn't go anymore.

Speaker 1 (00:33:08):

Did you ever, uh, swim in the river with except

Speaker 2 (00:33:12):


Speaker 1 (00:33:14):

You're a few years different. Yeah. Did, did, uh, are there any other kinds of, uh, activities, social activities you did besides the swimming at the club swimming in the river? Did you do other kinds

Speaker 2 (00:33:26):

Of things? Yeah. You went, went to the movies. <laugh>, uh, there was a movie theatre right at the end of, uh, our, the street where we lived cinema and LER. And, uh, and there were two, actually two movie theatres in the neighbourhood. Uh, uh, um, CBA, Sy, Sinbad, uh, cinema CBA was, uh, built and, uh, by friends or <affirmative>, uh, fr friends or family members, uh, before, of course, before 1951 was more in the thirties and forties that it was built. Uh, and, uh, so I, my parents had lots of memories of all those movies that were shown and cinema in the, uh, Sy was more recent. And, uh, I went there because it was close to my house and also to escape the heat of the summer. Uh, we cross the street and you spend the day in the <laugh> air air condition.

Speaker 1 (00:34:29):

So I'm thinking of the 1950s. Yeah. So were the movies you watched were Iraqi movies in Arabic or were they foreign movies,

Speaker 2 (00:34:38):

Foreign movies. They were also mostly foreign movies.

Speaker 1 (00:34:42):

And, and do you have any recollections of some movies that you saw in those days?

Speaker 2 (00:34:48):

Well, there was, uh, the, the famous Cindy battle, Barry, which is, uh, at the time that was your comics like Superman for, for, uh, there was, uh, uh, I can't remember, but, uh, the famous, uh, uh, west side story, uh, there was, uh, uh, there was at the Clark Gable in <laugh>.

Speaker 1 (00:35:20):

Yeah. What about kids? Movies like Cinderella or Disney movies or things like this? No.

Speaker 2 (00:35:24):


Speaker 1 (00:35:25):

And when movies were shown, um, they were shown in English with, uh, Arabic subtitles, or did they actually, uh, dub the, uh, the movie? Do you remember? Cause you

Speaker 2 (00:35:35):

Wouldn't be, no, it was, they dubbed. I think I, I believe it was dubbed. Yeah, but it's a good question. I can't remember because we were so fluent in English, uh, just to fill you in, like, I, I spent a, most of my summers in the library school library. I was reading English and French. I was reading, uh, SAR, camu, uh, and when I was younger, I was reading LA contest de which had fabulous stories for kids. Uh, that was more of my universe than, uh, the movies.

Speaker 1 (00:36:12):

So, so these were the years of Frankini I would think. Yeah. Before. Yeah. So it's the 1960s. Yeah. And, and, um, so, um, let me try to understand this then. So the revolution, uh, the kill the king in 1958, right. And, and then after that life returns more, less to normal again for a short time.

Speaker 2 (00:36:34):

Well, there was a period where after Kerry Kaso, who, who came after the revolution, he was very tolerant and friendly to the Jews. In fact, he came, uh, I have a picture with him, uh, because, uh, he came to the ceremony of, uh, award award ceremony at the end of the year. And, uh, I have a picture receiving, uh, an award from him, uh, at the end of the year. So yeah, I, I mean, we, we respected him, we cared for him and we were very sorry when he was killed and the way he was killed was, uh, atrocious. Uh, they, uh, they kept, they had, because the people, they wouldn't believe that you killed somebody high place, like the king, or if you didn't show them again and again, that he was killed because you had those, uh, now you call him, uh, uh, theories, uh, fake news, whatever, you know, uh, uh, so they didn't believe that he was dead. So they had to show him on TV and they had to show him dead and somebody was holding his head and, uh, and, uh, playing with it, which is horrible. It's really horrible. And for kids, I, I mean, it was horrible, really.

Speaker 1 (00:38:00):

He was killed in what, 62, 61,

Speaker 2 (00:38:02):

Something like that, something like that. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:38:04):

So I'm just trying to think of your age. You're born. So now you're, you're in,

Speaker 2 (00:38:09):

Uh, 10 years old,

Speaker 1 (00:38:10):

10 years old. Right. So you're, you're um, about to go to Frankini. I don't know if you're there yet. And so you're your life changes again with his, uh, brutal murder. Yeah. And, and, uh, the bath party starts a

Speaker 2 (00:38:27):

Little more powerful. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:38:28):

Yeah. And so how does that affect your, your, your everyday life, your family life, your,

Speaker 2 (00:38:35):

We went with the flow. Like we, we started to be more apprehensive, especially after, uh, after Kerry KA was killed and the bath was, uh, bad news and, uh, 63 marked a very, uh, strict, uh, like things really changed for the Jews in Iraq. Uh, 63, they, uh, my brother left in 63 to go study in the states because that's what, uh, all the Jews did. They knew they had no future in Iraq because they would never, but after 1951, there was nobody in civil servant. Uh, there was no, uh, you had to have, uh, uh, a Muslim partner if you had a business, uh, you couldn't really, you know, uh, you knew you had no future. So we were growing up and we believed in education and we believed in, uh, uh, realizing your potential. And you knew we couldn't do that in Iraq. So early on, we knew that after high school, we had to leave

Speaker 1 (00:39:46):

Why you knew parents in the, uh, early sixties, um, make that decision. I mean, they, obviously, you're saying they, they supported your brother leaving.

Speaker 2 (00:39:56):


Speaker 1 (00:39:57):

So why did they

Speaker 2 (00:39:59):

Stay? They really wanted to do that because they went, uh, to, to the states to visit, uh, I, I mentioned to you that I had two aunts, one in, uh, the United States and one in Canada, and then the third one was in England. So they went to visit all three aunts to see if they can leave and get settled. And what would would take, you had to have, uh, visa, you had to have, uh, application for whatever. Uh, and they, they saw that it was not easy that in order to live the lifestyle that my aunts were living in the states and in Canada, they needed to have funds and all their funds were tied in assets in Iraq. So the, the, the lesson was go back, try to, uh, sell your assets, uh, get the money out, which was, that was quite a feat. You could not send money out as a Jew. Uh, so, so they had this thing to, to take care of, but we knew that we had to leave in 61. They knew they had to leave. And my brother was very lucky. He left.

Speaker 1 (00:41:14):

So you're, so if I understand what you're telling me that after the assassination 58, there is a kind of radar. Yes. That's starting to pick up. Yes. And your parents begin to explore possibilities.

Speaker 2 (00:41:28):


Speaker 1 (00:41:29):

And, and they make a decision more or less based on quality of life possibilities, but they then send out, um, your, your brother when he graduates from Frankini. Yeah. Uh, to America to have a, uh, a different kind of life. And he, as a student, I suppose, and

Speaker 2 (00:41:50):

Right. Uh,

Speaker 1 (00:41:51):

But you, but you stay because you're younger.

Speaker 2 (00:41:54):

Yeah. Is that it? Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Uh, my hope was that, uh, when I finish my, the baccalaureate, I would also get a chance to leave, but it never materialized.

Speaker 1 (00:42:07):

So let's go back to your, uh, just, I want some sort of sense of what life was like, did your mother ever go to the Souk to go shopping?

Speaker 2 (00:42:15):

Never, never. It was the men that went shopping. The men

Speaker 1 (00:42:18):

Went to the Souk. Yes. So you didn't go to the Souk

Speaker 2 (00:42:20):

To go shopping? No. Never

Speaker 1 (00:42:21):

Did your father go to cafes to have coffee and, you know, and hang with friends?

Speaker 2 (00:42:27):

Not really. Not really. No, because he was a, he was a doctor. I, I don't know. It was not, he was not, uh, yeah, like he wouldn't go and shoot the breeze in the cafe and, and play by game. Right.

Speaker 1 (00:42:40):

Exactly. Did, did your mother play gin or something with friends at home?

Speaker 2 (00:42:46):

No. They played bridge.

Speaker 1 (00:42:48):

Oh, they

Speaker 2 (00:42:48):

Played bridge. Yes. They took up bridge. Uh, I remember because they both had to learn and that became their, uh, and I, uh, insisted on learning at the same time they did.

Speaker 1 (00:43:01):

Did you become a good bridge player?

Speaker 2 (00:43:03):

I picked it up. Yeah. I was, uh, quite good. Yeah. <laugh> yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:43:06):

And did you play with your friends at high school or was it more,

Speaker 2 (00:43:10):

Uh, no, no, no. Bridge was a little bit more, uh, uh, yeah, it's after I left, when I came to Canada that, uh, it was popular.

Speaker 1 (00:43:20):

Did, were there, were your, your parents besides the synagogue, which I'm sure they were involved in? Uh, was there any other ones that any other organizations in any way they were involved in?

Speaker 2 (00:43:33):


Speaker 1 (00:43:35):

And how did they dress? Very Western.

Speaker 2 (00:43:38):

Very Western, totally Western, totally

Speaker 1 (00:43:40):

Western. And, um, and you shopped at

Speaker 2 (00:43:44):

A rusty back

Speaker 1 (00:43:46):

The Western store?

Speaker 2 (00:43:47):

Absolutely. I think

Speaker 1 (00:43:48):


Speaker 2 (00:43:49):

<laugh> uh, there was also another, uh, department store HASU Iwan, uh, the brothers HASU, which is also, uh, European. And, uh, then there was, uh, kind of, uh, uh, a Western grocery store called BG SS, uh, that they would have stuff that you don't find in a regular Souk <laugh>

Speaker 1 (00:44:14):

<laugh>. Um, so if, what about Jewish organizations? I mean, at this point, um, Israel is found in 48. You're born in 51. So was Zionism, was there any kind of, uh, uh, teaching of Jewish in some way that was part of your experience?

Speaker 2 (00:44:37):

No, we had, uh, well, uh, we had a teacher that was supposed to teach us, uh, Hebrew, but he was senile and, uh, he fell asleep in the classroom and it was a chaos, so we didn't learn anything. But, uh, in order to answer a question, we had to be very, very careful because, uh, uh, communism, which was at the same time as Zionism in, uh, was frowned upon. And, uh, you could easily be like somebody, if you're neighbour Muslim neighbour or had a fight with you or didn't like you or anything, they would just go and inform on you and say, he's a communist, and that's all it takes for you to go to prison. And, uh, in fact, my dad, somebody, you know, they had some disagreement on something and, uh, they put in his file that he's a communist. So he, he had to be very careful not to have to indulge in any activities because he already the file existed.

Speaker 2 (00:45:41):

So that, I mean, to put him in prison, would that being very easily. And the only reason why my father kind of, uh, escaped with <laugh> not being in prison is because, uh, after his first clinic closed down, which was SHA Rashid, the main street, uh, he opened the second clinic, right. Adjacent to the synagogue, uh, his father's synagogue. And, uh, that was, there was, uh, an intelligence office right next to him. So it was, uh, a double whammy, uh, patients were Muslim. Patients were afraid to come to him because they would be, they would, oh, you are spying. You're seeing a Zionist, you're going to a Jewish doctor. Uh, on the other hand, they kept such a good eye. They all were his patients, all the officers that worked there were his patients for free. He, he wouldn't charge for the so, but it, it, there was a balance.

Speaker 1 (00:46:44):

And so, in, in a sense, then you, you were protected in a way because of your father's contacts?

Speaker 2 (00:46:52):

Uh, not, I wouldn't say protected. They mostly kept an eye, like, uh, when it came to escaping, if you had to escape, uh, they would notice right away that he was not at his clinic, so we didn't have that luxury of saying, oh, you know, I'm gonna go up north and, uh, uh, leave from there. That was a big, big, uh, issue.

Speaker 1 (00:47:16):

So I I'm, I'm, I'm trying to get this sense of, um, um, you, you, you know, uh, this kind of social world, if you were involved in some way, and you, you talked about swimming and you talked about, uh, uh, bridge and are, are there any other events that, uh, any other kinds of activities that, uh, uh, movies, I mean, other things that come out in any way that you recall?

Speaker 2 (00:47:43):

Well, we, we had the plays at the school every year, they organized plays. And so you had to, uh, you know, you got, you got to have a role and play, but they were mostly Western plays.

Speaker 1 (00:47:57):

And did you have parts in these plays?

Speaker 2 (00:48:00):

Uh, yes.

Speaker 1 (00:48:01):

Any leading role? <laugh>

Speaker 2 (00:48:04):

No, actually my experience was, uh, negative because I was assigned a main role, uh, just to have it withdrawn because, uh, somebody else, uh, had better connections.

Speaker 1 (00:48:16):

<laugh>. Do you remember any of your, so let's talk about the Frankini years. Okay. Do you remember any of your teachers? Did any of them stand out?

Speaker 2 (00:48:25):

Yes. They all stand out. Well, mainly the principle, uh, ABD. He was, uh, really, he stood out mostly because he was, uh, very influential in pushing us to realize our potential. And, uh, we all, uh, like as soon as you started in Frank grain, which is high school, you knew that you had to have good grades because you wanted to go to MIT or Harvard. Uh, that was the main goal. So a few, like two or three from every class got to go. And, uh, and that was maintained. So this was that he, he, he was very instrumental in doing that.

Speaker 1 (00:49:08):

And your curriculum was in Arabic and also in French and in English? Yes. So you, the main one was Arabic, but then you had French

Speaker 2 (00:49:16):

In English. Well, when you say main one, we, we studied chemistry, physics in French, English, and Arabic, and mostly in French and English. So Arabic was, yes. We had to know the language in order to pass the exams, but, uh, we were very, uh, good in proficient in English and French.

Speaker 1 (00:49:37):

And when you did your, uh, graduated, which would've been, what

Speaker 2 (00:49:41):

Year? 60, 67, 67.

Speaker 1 (00:49:43):

So you wrote the BA to the audio?

Speaker 2 (00:49:45):

Yes. And that was during the 67 war in June. We were, I was writing my, our exam. So this is, uh, a government exam, the baccalaureate. So our school, like we had to go to a different school to write the exam. And it was, uh, it was a convent that was situated right across from tare square, where the mobs were running wild. So we were sitting, writing our exams in the convent and the mob was downstairs and they ended up working into the convent and they came and they tore all our, uh, books, uh, exam books, but they didn't know that we were Jews. They, it, it it's a convent, so they didn't assume that we were Jews, but we ran for our lives because, uh, you know, we just ran. And I remember like, it was very, very traumatic getting back home because we ran in the street. Nobody was with us, no adults, we just ran.

Speaker 1 (00:50:45):

You ran from there all the way home. Yeah. And, and, um, no one would know that you, you were Jewish.

Speaker 2 (00:50:55):

There were just, no, no, they didn't know we were Jewish. We just, uh, students taking an exam, like a government exam.

Speaker 1 (00:51:01):

And did you have to go back and take it again another day? Yes. Yes. And this was during the six day war?

Speaker 2 (00:51:07):


Speaker 1 (00:51:08):

So you go home. Yeah. And would, would you listen to the radio about the war?

Speaker 2 (00:51:15):

Glad you asked that was our, uh, hope there was, uh, uh, we would gather, uh, next to the radio, uh, radio. And we would listen to the Israel voice, which is south RFI. The voice of the RFI Rafi is really, you know, the Mesopotamia, if you want. And, uh, it was called, it was a special emission. It was mostly for us for, uh, Jews in Iraq and south Rafi. Then he was excellent. He gave us hope. He, he, he was our connection that there was people that cared about what happened to us outside of Iraq. That was very important. I wish I, I, I could connect again with whoever was behind that, it's it it's, it was really, really amazing. So every night we would gather, and we would cover the, the radio with the rug so that, uh, nobody hears the noise because we didn't want the neighbors to know that we were listening. It was against the law. Uh, it was scary, but we did it because that was hope for us.

Speaker 1 (00:52:23):

And your brother was still with you at this point, or he had gone,

Speaker 2 (00:52:28):

He had gone 63. He was gone. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (00:52:30):

So he was gone by 67 war. So just you and your parents listening

Speaker 2 (00:52:34):

To this. Yes. Yes.

Speaker 1 (00:52:35):

And you, weren't your afraid of sending you back out there to the school for your exam? Given what was going

Speaker 2 (00:52:44):

On? Education is paramount. It was paramount for the Jews in Iraq, my grandmother, who was illiterate herself, she had sent her three children to France to study. So very important education is very, very important.

Speaker 1 (00:53:04):

And did you also do the, a levels,

Speaker 2 (00:53:06):

The British exams? Yes.

Speaker 1 (00:53:07):

Yes. Was that in the covenant, the covenant also,

Speaker 2 (00:53:10):

Or no. No, that, that was no, that was separate. Uh, we, we did the French exams, the B the Balo and we did the, a levels and all levels.

Speaker 1 (00:53:20):

And where, and those were at Frankini the

Speaker 2 (00:53:22):

A no, no, no. There was, uh, there was at the embassy. Uh,

Speaker 1 (00:53:28):

So, so this, so the, uh, AAD would arrange all this for

Speaker 2 (00:53:32):

You to be able to do? Yes. Yes. Which was to his credit? He, he did a fabulous job on education.

Speaker 1 (00:53:42):

And what about Richard? Did you know, uh, the son at all?

Speaker 2 (00:53:46):


Speaker 1 (00:53:46):

Was he in your class or got

Speaker 2 (00:53:48):

Older? No, he was older. He was older. His sister was in my class, Linda sister. Oh, Linda.

Speaker 1 (00:53:52):

Did you have a relationship with the

Speaker 2 (00:53:53):

Sister at all? Yes.

Speaker 1 (00:53:55):

Can you tell me about this?

Speaker 2 (00:53:58):

Well, we were friends. Did

Speaker 1 (00:53:59):

You go to movies together? Did you hang out at all? Did you, was there, I mean, you went to class.

Speaker 2 (00:54:05):

Yeah. Yeah. But most of my friendship was during the school. I, I, I didn't socialize in terms of, I was not, uh, my parents were not member of the club, neither were her parents, but she did go occasionally to the club. Uh, that lizettes about, uh, the older girls and boys, they were members of the club and they participated in dances. I was too young for that. Yeah. And so, yeah, we were friends.

Speaker 1 (00:54:36):

And did, um, did she also, um, write these exams?

Speaker 2 (00:54:40):

The, uh, yes, absolutely. Everyone. Absolutely. And if you want some, uh, <laugh> stories was that, uh, the, in the baccalaureate exam, um, it was 67 war. And, uh, in spite of that, my, the results came out. I came out second in all of Iraq. Wow. Which was quite an achievement. And as such, uh, the, uh, university of Baghdad accepted from the school, initially, they accepted the top six students. They negotiated that because, uh, the principal, uh, was teaching at the university of Baghdad. So he had some influence and he managed to get them to accept six students. That was about the, the limit they would agree to. So six of us were scheduled to start university. And, uh, she was one, she, of course she was on the border, but her name was on the list because her father was teaching there and all of that. And, uh, so the, our, the top six names, my name was there, but then it disappeared somewhere along the line because somebody else had, uh, connections with the principal and he insisted that his son goes and, uh, anyway, so my name was, uh, and I was, I was mad as hell. I was mad as hell I was, I could have done anything, but when the university started, they sent the Jews home. So we were all back in the same boat. <laugh>, <laugh> no university

Speaker 1 (00:56:32):


Speaker 2 (00:56:32):

<laugh> fate

Speaker 1 (00:56:34):

Did. Um, so I'm, I'm just trying to follow the Jewish kind of theme. So in not, and Daniel, when you were in the, uh, elementary, did you learn how to read Hebrew there in the school?

Speaker 2 (00:56:45):

Barely alphabet. Like I said, the teacher was Sile. Yeah. Then,

Speaker 1 (00:56:50):

Um, you're at, uh, Frank INNI and Hebrew is not part of the curriculum

Speaker 2 (00:56:55):

At all? No, not at all.

Speaker 1 (00:56:56):

And so when you were going to synagogue, um, it wasn't like you had prayers or Saint Hebrew or anything because you couldn't read Hebrew or you couldn't

Speaker 2 (00:57:03):

Note you needed, we didn't have interest in following. We were there as kids and we ran after the other kids. And we, we went around getting treats from the adults to keep us quiet. So <laugh>

Speaker 1 (00:57:15):

Right. So then comes the, uh, the six day war, for example. And this is religious. Now this is Israel. And so, did you have any knowledge of Israel beyond the radio? I mean, was there any kind of education about Israel?

Speaker 2 (00:57:31):

It was by osmosis. You, you had to know about Israel. We had to, we did. We, uh, no, we were well versed in what was happening

Speaker 1 (00:57:40):

And who was telling you that your parents, your

Speaker 2 (00:57:42):

Yeah. You pick it up from the community, from your friends, from, uh, you know, it's, it's part of life, you know, that, uh, you know, why we had to live, uh, Iraq because, you know, you either go to Israel or you go to the west,

Speaker 1 (00:57:58):

But what I, what I'm really pushing here is, is people already had gone to Israel. Yes. You know, before 51 51. And so they're writing letters back to the small community that is, uh, in, in, in Baghdad ambassador basically. And so the story there isn't like there isn't schools in education about Israel. It's

Speaker 2 (00:58:21):

It's yeah. You know, it's, it's you pick it up, go through

Speaker 1 (00:58:24):


Speaker 2 (00:58:24):

Letters. It's absolutely. Absolutely.

Speaker 1 (00:58:27):

Your, your parents visiting England or whatever it is, it's, it's these kinds of things, uh, plus with the radio

Speaker 2 (00:58:33):

Radio that is, yeah. And the TV, I mean, you, by then the TV and the, between TV and radio, you were very well versed into what's happening around the world.

Speaker 1 (00:58:46):

So there was, there was, if, if one had access to that, then one, like being in the United States, you were aware what was

Speaker 2 (00:58:54):

Going on. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Speaker 1 (00:58:56):

With, with less false facts. <laugh>

Speaker 2 (00:58:59):

Why, why we won't talk about that. <laugh>

Speaker 1 (00:59:03):

Okay. Um, so, um, let's talk about post 67 now.

Speaker 2 (00:59:10):


Speaker 1 (00:59:10):

So, um, 67, uh, life begins to change again.

Speaker 2 (00:59:15):


Speaker 1 (00:59:16):

And how does it change in the period between 67? And you're leaving, you left it in 71? Yes. Okay. How does it change in those

Speaker 2 (00:59:23):

People? Well, first of all, you're talking about the synagogue was by then was closed because there was no minion. There was, uh, uh, there was threats of, uh, uh, putting explosive. It was so they had to, to close it. So, no, synagog, you didn't wanna be seen going to synagog uh, after, even after 63, like they, the, the, the bath started spreading rumours. It, you know, all the Jews are spies, fifth column, they called it. And whenever things heated up for them, poli, politically, they would, uh, start, uh, talking about the Jews to distract the population. Uh, so you would hear, uh, the, the radio blaring, you know, like, uh, Jews are spies, find them, appro them, denounce them. So you, my, my father was go at the, so buying provisions and he hear, you know, the, the radio blaring. And then, yeah, he had the, the, a kid sitting at the, the stall, besides the father selling, uh, vegetables. And the, the kid would ask his Muslim father, what, who are Jews? What are Jews? What's that? And, you know, my father is listening that says, uh, you know, he changed directions, went back home and didn't wanna be associated with that, that the, the guy would say, oh, this day goes a Jew

Speaker 1 (01:00:55):

You's <affirmative>. So you knew yourself. Can you remember early experiences of where you were afraid because of, uh, your Jewishness?

Speaker 2 (01:01:06):

Well, I was quite sheltered. I, I, I, as a girl, you know, like I had to be very careful. Uh, it was at around, around the time that, uh, in the Western civilization there was going with the mini ship, the, so the, the short skirts, and that was frowned upon, uh, the police were issued orders that any woman caught with, uh, short skirts, they should spray her with paint. Uh, so we were very, very careful with that,

Speaker 1 (01:01:38):

But the, the, um, uh, but back then was a pretty secular society.

Speaker 2 (01:01:44):

I mean, they were, uh, when Abdel C cousin came, he, he almost like there were no VES. The, the women were, uh, allowed to go to work. They were allowed to go to university. They were allowed to do everything they wanted. In fact, there were women, policemen, police, women, which was quite unusual for, uh, a Muslim country, but when the bath came back, they outlawed all of that. And they went back to wearing the veil. And that became, uh, uh,

Speaker 1 (01:02:17):

So you're saying when you were in Frank Heini, or by the time 67 veils were very common again.

Speaker 2 (01:02:22):

Yeah. Uh, in the street street, we, we, I never wore veil, not in my entire life.

Speaker 1 (01:02:28):

Right. But the, but Muslim women

Speaker 2 (01:02:30):

Began, it began wearing veils. Yeah. Not

Speaker 1 (01:02:33):

Christian women.

Speaker 2 (01:02:34):

No, but I, let me give you an example. So, uh, as I said, we had Muslim neighbours, so the Muslims, uh, they had a wedding for their daughters. The way the wedding would go is that, uh, the daughter is not allowed to decide who to choose the husband. Number one. And even on the night of her wedding, she would be up on the roof. We would, we were talking to her on the roof while the wedding ceremony was going on down in the garden. And, uh, she was not allowed to see her husband until after the ceremony. Uh, and that's when, after that, she would only show herself in Ave. Now having said that the son, her brother, uh, he was sent to England for his education. And he came back, he, he got, uh, married to a British woman, obviously not Muslim. And she came back and they allowed her to go around, not wearing a veil, which was, you know, you had the sisters all covered up with veils and then the bride, the new Western bride, she was allowed to go around Nova

Speaker 1 (01:03:48):

The, the, um, so 67 and things change. Yes. And, and Saddam saying comes in in 69, I think 68. He, I think he takes over.

Speaker 2 (01:04:00):

Um, yeah. Uh, no, um, AB his uncle was abbu Becker. AHMA Hasan. Becker was in power. He was in the background. He was within intelligence. Yeah. I think

Speaker 1 (01:04:13):

Until about 69 or something,

Speaker 2 (01:04:15):

He was, no, he was not in power until after I left, but he was behind everything. Ah, okay. He was behind everything. He was in power, but not directly. And he took over from his uncle.

Speaker 1 (01:04:27):

And so in this, this period where it becomes, um, uh, much you're, you're much more conscious, uh, your radar is much stronger, let's say. Yes. Yes. Um, are there, can you tell me about other incidents that happened in terms of, uh anti-Jewish as you talked with your father in the, so, uh, you talked about the radio and the rugs are other things happening.

Speaker 2 (01:04:51):

That definitely, because, like I mentioned, my brother was, uh, like, it was a, a turning point when he left in 63, things were relatively peaceful relat, but, uh, 63, uh, they are nobody, no J could get a passport to leave that was finished. Uh, second they, uh, started freezing the assets of the Jews. Uh, they went to the point of, they froze the bank accounts. And when that happened, like that, that was awful because if you cannot go to the bank and withdraw money, you are starving. Even if you were the richest person in, in the community, you are starving. And so we had to, to, we couldn't pay, uh, the, the servants, the help anymore. Uh, I remember that the fridge was emptying out and we didn't know what to do. And that's also started another thing that, uh, you, you didn't trust banks accounts or having assets or anything.

Speaker 2 (01:05:56):

So any money that my dad would earn from his practice, uh, we started bury it into the ground. So I, and that was my responsibility. We would wait for the midnight and we, we had a chicken coop in the garden and we'd go inside the chicken coop and dig a hole and, uh, bury the money. And, uh, you, you learn quite a few things. If you bury paper in the ground, there's rats are gonna come and chew on it. <laugh>. So when you go and you think you have money, and then you it's all chewed up, how you gonna take it to the bank to have it exchanged <laugh>. So then you started packaging it and, and, uh, yeah, that, so, yeah, that gives you an idea a little bit, uh, basically like we were there, we had assets, but didn't help us to stay alive.

Speaker 2 (01:06:52):

<laugh> to eat it. Didn't. And we knew also that if we were to leave, we needed to have money outside to sustain the transition. So that is another story, because you had to find people to LA the money. And that was quite challenging because, uh, these people, you know, they were afraid for their lives. Some of them were Jews, some of them were not Jews. And, uh, it was really hairy to try to contact them. And, uh, you didn't know if they were gonna denounce you or whatever. And also the fact that they kept most of the money to themselves. You're, you're barely left with, uh, 40% of what you give them that would, uh, go out. And, uh, there, there actually, there was, uh, uh, Abe, Nunu was one of the ones helping with, uh, and, uh, through Lebanon. He was, uh, trying to get the money out and he was hanged because he was, uh, denounced and, uh, he lost his life for that.

Speaker 1 (01:08:03):

Did, did, um, was there any connection at this point, um, where you people began going up to the crit area to leave, um, post 67, or did you know any about the,

Speaker 2 (01:08:17):

Any of this? Well, between 63 and 67, a lot of people left, but they were going through Basra

Speaker 1 (01:08:25):

Going through Basra,

Speaker 2 (01:08:26):

Right? Yeah. Uh, and I, I remember quite a few relatives, uh, with, I still remember there was a, a cousin of my mother that came, you know, she rang the Bella, you know, we, we went to see her and she had a package in her hand. And, uh, my mom said, what is this? And then she showed her, it was, uh, her daughter's, uh, her daughter was much older than us, uh, than me. And it was, uh, like a bridal thing. And it was very pretty. And she said, this was her engagement dress. And, uh, she couldn't bear to throw it out. So she's bringing it to my mother, uh, and all of that. And, uh, so that, that kind of, you know, like all of a sudden, I, I, you know, I was wired that people are leaving, uh, clandestine and that today you see them tomorrow, you don't see them. And that in itself is a traumatic experience for, for children, for developing, you know, a teenager, whatever it is, very traumatizing to see, to know that people that you see today are gone tomorrow and you will never see them again. And without having been able to say goodbye properly.

Speaker 1 (01:09:41):

And did you see some students in your class one day there, or the next day gone?

Speaker 2 (01:09:45):

Yeah. Well, there was, some of them were later, uh, hanged in, uh, 69. Uh, those, there were quite a few from, uh, that I knew from my class and or from my, because after 67, uh, I finished baccalaureate. I wasn't able to go to university. I had to keep busy. I, uh, tried to find a job. And, uh, because I knew French and English, I was hired by the Belgium embassy in their trade office. Uh, they were thrilled to have me, uh, but I only lasted three weeks. And then the intelligence office came to visit us at home and they spoke to my mother and they said, if your daughter continues to go to the Belgium embassy, uh, your husband is going to prison. And, uh, sure enough, the next day, the consulate, uh, uh, the ambassador, uh, called me into his office and he says, look, I am, we are not firing you.

Speaker 2 (01:10:50):

We want you to continue. We're thrilled to have you, but the intelligence offices give us an ultimatum that, you know, if, if you don't stop working here, they'll put your father in prison. So having heard it from, you know, the two sources I couldn't continue. So then I was home with nothing to do. So that's when I, I started studying, uh, uh, my, a levels by in correspondence. I started going to the French Institute to, to, to, to, to improve my French, but really to pass the time. And I, I studied Spanish, I studied German, I had, I had to do something.

Speaker 1 (01:11:37):

So 69 comes, tell me about 69. And, uh, uh, the hangings,

Speaker 2 (01:11:45):

That was God awful. Uh, because, uh, the, we, we started hearing that a few people from the community disappeared, they were arrested and, uh, their families would go to the prison, looking for them. And they were not allowed to see them. They would bring food. And, uh, the, the, the soldiers took pity on them because they were taking the food supposedly to give to the, the family member. And so, but then, you know, after two weeks or three weeks of that, they took pity on the parents and, and they told them, look, your husband is not here. Don't bring food because it's, the soldiers are eating it. So you, when you're told your husband is not here, where is he? Uh, so quite a few people disappeared like that. And, uh, you know, some of them are still not accounted for like, I'm sure Linda man MEK talks about, uh, that I, I have other friends in Canada that, uh, their father disappeared, uh, quite a few people, but then that, those hangings, they, those were one off that, uh, they decided because again, every time they wanted to scare the population, uh, they used the Jews as scapegoats that they are, they were conspiring against the country.

Speaker 2 (01:13:17):

They were doing, uh, spying for Israel. They were this, in fact, there's none of that going on because none of the Jews left in Iraq in 69 would dare do anything. Or, and we, plus we were watched, there were people sitting outside our homes, every Jewish family, they had somebody, uh, from the intelligence office sitting outside every day to see who's coming and who's going. So it was really, uh, trumped up charges. But, uh, and these people lost their lives. And some of them were, uh, people, you know, that we were hanging with, uh, they were studying, uh, Spanish or German with us. Uh, we were all really unemployed, uh, nothing to do. You cannot, uh, be part of a club. You cannot do anything. So we tried to go to foreign institutes to study because they, they, they, on the surface, they couldn't turn us away.

Speaker 1 (01:14:25):

And so you, these hangings, how did you learn about them because you were watching TV

Speaker 2 (01:14:32):

Or were there yeah. Yeah, they were, they were well, uh, advertised on, uh, TV. In fact, I couldn't bear that day to watch any TV. I went to hide in the back of the garden. I, I had some, something like a tent or a hall to hide in because I didn't wanna hear it. Wasn't just that it was that they, uh, they hang the bodies in, in the main, uh, squared <inaudible> and they invited the population to go and, and, uh, they gave them, uh, free food, free drinks come and demonstrate and, uh, parade. And, uh, it's a, it's a joyful, uh, uh, event. They even, they were, they went with buses, they went all the way to the suburbs to bring people for it's a festive occasion, which was awful. God awful.

Speaker 1 (01:15:28):

And did, did, were you afraid after that to even go outta the house to,

Speaker 2 (01:15:32):

Yeah, I barely, I barely left the house

Speaker 1 (01:15:37):

And your father continued practicing.

Speaker 2 (01:15:39):

He had no choice because like I mentioned, his clinic was next to the intelligence office and they kept an eye on him the day he doesn't go, they would come and get him. And also he was buying the piece because he was looking after them.

Speaker 1 (01:15:55):

So what, what made you finally leave your family? Leave

Speaker 2 (01:16:00):

That story? Well, 63, there was no more passports to be had. So we were trying, and again, the problem was we couldn't leave to go to the north of Iraq because my father's clinic would, was under surveillance. So he was totally afraid. And that, that created a lot of tension. I wanted to leave, uh, at any price. I couldn't care less at that point I wanted to leave. So I had arguments with my father and my mother, and I was threatening that I was leaving. I was gonna disappear from the house. I was gonna find my own way. And, uh, so, so there was some collaboration. So my father made a few moves to, to try to find a way to get to north of Iraq, to find, uh, uh, somebody who would take us across the border. Uh, but I didn't believe in that.

Speaker 2 (01:16:53):

I knew that they were too scared to act on it. And, uh, but at the same time, there was, uh, pressure coming up from, uh, foreign countries. And one of these countries was Canada, but Canada had no, uh, consulate at the time. There was no embassy. There was no consulate, there was no relationship with Iraq. So the, the closest was the embassy in Beirut, in, uh, Lebanon. Uh, so one that's when we started to hear echoes was when, uh, the ambassador came to Iraq and, uh, uh, they, they had a list. There was 17 families that had members in Canada that were Canadian already. And, uh, so they applied for their parents. So he came with a list of 17 families that he was inquiring about. And, uh, so that we got, uh, uh, summons from, uh, the travel office to show ourselves there. So we went, uh, to the travel office and they said, oh yeah, they're going to give you visas.

Speaker 2 (01:18:00):

You're going to travel. Uh, you're going to Canada. And, uh, so, so yeah, you know, so you think, you know, uh, you have a file. You're gonna be able to follow up with the file. So you go, you know, the, the ambassador went back to Lebanon. You go, the next week, the guy is sitting with his legs on top of the table, which is very disrespectful to, to, to receive somebody with your legs up on the table, on his desk. And then he would look down and says, uh, why are you here? And so, well, you told us we have a file. We're gonna get a visa. He says, you see, he opens the doorway. He says, their files are here. And he closes the doorway don't come back. So this happened again and again, uh, the ambassador comes, they take out the files and then they bury them again, four years of that, it was nice because, but it was not nice because, uh, to my parents, as long as they had hope that they could get a passport, they weren't going to take the chance to escape, especially that, uh, the escape route would be closed.

Speaker 2 (01:19:19):

They would put some people in, in, uh, custody. And, uh, it was not that easy to, to escape. And my father was very reluctant to do that. So we waited until 71, between 67, 71, this thing going back and forth, you're gonna get a visa, finally happened 71.

Speaker 1 (01:19:45):

So when you get the visa,

Speaker 2 (01:19:47):


Speaker 1 (01:19:47):

How long is it before then? And you leave?

Speaker 2 (01:19:51):

We left right away. <laugh> sorry.

Speaker 1 (01:19:54):

You get the visa the morning. You're on a plane.

Speaker 2 (01:19:57):

Almost. We, we, we, we literally left the house as is, uh, we, we parked the car in the garage and because it's in a hot country, we had to put it on bricks so that the air doesn't, uh, uh, we, we locked the house and we took a cab to the airport. Anyway, you couldn't, we couldn't take anything with us.

Speaker 1 (01:20:21):

So you, uh, just like a handbag, no

Speaker 2 (01:20:24):

Lock handbag. Uh, well, the, you know, like a change of clothes, basically

Speaker 1 (01:20:29):

The, and the plane took you where

Speaker 2 (01:20:31):

Beirut Lebanon.

Speaker 1 (01:20:33):

It was a one way ticket to Beirut.

Speaker 2 (01:20:35):

Yes. And, and, and that was so scary because we didn't know what was gonna happen. Like it was still an Arab country. We didn't know whether, you know, like the plane is they will allow us to continue, or we would be turned back. We were that, that I remember it was five, six hours wait in Beirut was horrible. And then we had a flight to Switzerland.

Speaker 1 (01:21:06):

And from Switzerland, you stayed in Switzerland,

Speaker 2 (01:21:08):

Or, yeah, we stayed in Switzerland and the, well, my father had to do his, uh, first of all, we didn't have a real visa because from Canada, there was a promise of a visa. But since they had no counselor, uh, connection, we had to get the visa in, uh, Switzerland. So we had to wait for the visa. And, uh, my, uh, brother came to see us cuz, uh, he, he it's been eight years. He hadn't seen his family.

Speaker 1 (01:21:40):

He came from America.

Speaker 2 (01:21:41):

Yes. And, uh, he, he was, uh, he had a good life. My brother <laugh>. So he came, he says, well, you know, uh, we have to do a tour of France, you know, or of Europe. You, you're not gonna get another chance. This is our chance. Let's do it. So, uh, we, we did while we were waiting for the visa to arrive.

Speaker 1 (01:22:05):

And when did you leave Baghdad? What year? And what month?

Speaker 2 (01:22:08):

17th of April, 1971.

Speaker 1 (01:22:12):

And at that point, the, uh, the Jewish, uh, the numbers of the Jews in Iraq were, were what, few thousand? Maybe?

Speaker 2 (01:22:21):

No, not, I don't no less than less, less, less than 2000.

Speaker 1 (01:22:26):

Less than 2000. And, um, most of your friends basically had gone already. Yes.

Speaker 2 (01:22:32):

By that time? Yes. Yes. That, that was like I said, traumatic for me because every time I would find out indirectly that somebody had gone, I would feel like the trap is closing and I am trapped. And there is no hope for, for me.

Speaker 1 (01:22:54):

So when you got that visa, your parents, I mean, you got the visa, um, or at least the permission to get out. Yeah. Um, what did you do that last day? Did you go look around at some objects? Did you go to your bedroom? What did, do you remember what you did in your last 24 hours?

Speaker 2 (01:23:13):

No, we just, we, our, that was the past. We didn't want any of it. We were ready. We, we had made our peace with whatever there was there.

Speaker 1 (01:23:26):

So there wasn't like some special object you took or something you went back and gave a hug to goodbye kind of

Speaker 2 (01:23:33):

Thing. No, actually my mom had the traumatic experience because she had saved some jewelry that her father had given her when she got married and all of that. And she put it in a special, uh, hiding place. And in the chaos of leaving, she forgot to take it out. I, I, that, that she couldn't forgive herself, but that, that was it. There

Speaker 1 (01:23:59):

Was no special memento book, um, jewelry, something that,

Speaker 2 (01:24:04):

No, you, you were, we were afraid to take anything. Like, I, I didn't even take my, uh, uh, diplomas that I would be my birth certificate, my, uh, school certificate. They all stayed. I, I couldn't take anything out and pictures. In fact, the only pictures we have were the pictures that over the years we had sent to my brother when we could send him, uh, by mail. But that, that also was, uh, interrupted at one point. And, uh, your, if you sent something to the United States, you are spying or you are,

Speaker 1 (01:24:45):

So you're when you went to Beirut, you just stayed at the airport.

Speaker 2 (01:24:48):

You didn't really no, no, no, no, no, no. You're not taking any chances. You're out.

Speaker 1 (01:24:52):

The trauma was still there. You were in Arab country. So it's only you're in the plane and you're now flying to Switzerland. Yeah. That's when you begin to

Speaker 2 (01:25:01):

Breathe, breathe. Yes. <laugh>. Yes, but it's funny because I still remember when the plane landed in Switzerland. Uh, I, and I don't know, maybe because it was coming from a, a, an Arab country or something. It was in a very secluded part of the airport. And there were lots of army office. And, and that was like, I, I was expecting, you know, like what you see in the movies, you know, like <laugh>, uh, but I didn't expect army people to be around. And that was shocking. <laugh>

Speaker 1 (01:25:37):

So you, you do a little tour of Europe with your brother

Speaker 2 (01:25:40):

And, and, and parents course. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (01:25:42):

And what is that tour? Is it Germany? Is it, uh, where do you go in

Speaker 2 (01:25:46):

Switzerland? Well, it was mostly to France because my dad studied in France and we went to France. Yeah. We visited, uh, the farm of the uncle in Exxon Pavon. Uh, that was very special when my father had to do it, uh, uh, also because, you know, like, uh, he family members that disappeared in the concentration camp, but we also went to Denmark, Sweden, Holland,

Speaker 1 (01:26:14):

By train. This is all through

Speaker 2 (01:26:16):

By train. No, by car. Oh, we

Speaker 1 (01:26:17):

Took it drove.

Speaker 2 (01:26:18):

We drove. Yeah. Italy

Speaker 1 (01:26:21):

And <affirmative>. And when your father went to ex example and met the family and

Speaker 2 (01:26:27):

Some of them, no, no family was left,

Speaker 1 (01:26:29):

No family. So he is only looking at the yes.

Speaker 2 (01:26:31):

The memory? Yes.

Speaker 1 (01:26:33):

And was that traumatic

Speaker 2 (01:26:34):

For him? Actually, there was one cousin that re remained.

Speaker 1 (01:26:38):

Was it traumatic for him too?

Speaker 2 (01:26:40):

I am sure.

Speaker 1 (01:26:41):

But you didn't have a conversation. You

Speaker 2 (01:26:42):

Didn't? No, we just were around we,

Speaker 1 (01:26:47):

And so then you go back to Switzerland. Yeah. And you have your visa? Yeah. And where do you go after that?

Speaker 2 (01:26:53):


Speaker 1 (01:26:54):

So you go for Switzerland to Montreal? Yeah. So you don't spend much time in Europe at all? That?

Speaker 2 (01:27:00):

No, there was a couple of months because to go around the tour. Yeah. The tour, there was a couple of months. Well, I left, we, uh, in April and I had to start university in September, so I had to go to Montreal.

Speaker 1 (01:27:15):

Right. And your parents came with you to Montreal?

Speaker 2 (01:27:18):


Speaker 1 (01:27:19):

And your brother then went back to, where was he living?

Speaker 2 (01:27:22):

He was in Montreal too. Oh, he was in

Speaker 1 (01:27:24):

Montreal too. Yeah. And what was he doing at that time?

Speaker 2 (01:27:26):

Uh, he was working as what? Uh, he was in a financial capacity. He was, uh, um, working for air Canada.

Speaker 1 (01:27:35):

So, so he just took some time off in order to be and travel.

Speaker 2 (01:27:39):

Yeah, he was working, not for the air. Canada came after he was working for some company or other,

Speaker 1 (01:27:48):

Whatever you could take

Speaker 2 (01:27:48):

The time off. He took the time off. What was

Speaker 1 (01:27:50):

That like the family unit being together again, it was like,

Speaker 2 (01:27:55):

It was amazing. <laugh> it was amazing.

Speaker 1 (01:28:00):

And, uh, and did one still talk about a rack or was it just sort of like a fog when wanted to get away from

Speaker 2 (01:28:09):

A fog that you wanted to get with? <laugh> because when I did come to Montreal and, uh, you know, there was, uh, there are members of the Jewish community who didn't were, were not even born in Europe or left when they were kids and had no recollection of, uh, in the fifties they left, uh, whatever. They had no recollection of what, what we went through and they would come and, uh, bother me with the, oh, speak Arabic. I wanna hear Arabic. I wanna hear the Arabic. Did you do this in your, and, and I, I was totally, I turned them off completely. I said, I don't talk to me about Iraq. I don't wanna hear I'm starting a new life.

Speaker 1 (01:28:52):

So you come to Montreal September, August 7th, 1971. And, uh, where do you live in Montreal at that point?

Speaker 2 (01:29:00):

Uh, my parents had an apartment.

Speaker 1 (01:29:03):

And were you helped by Jas or anything?

Speaker 2 (01:29:05):

Yes. Jas, uh, helped us, uh, come to Montreal. So they, they're the ones that put our, uh, names on the list. On the list.

Speaker 1 (01:29:13):

Yeah. And

Speaker 2 (01:29:13):

They're the ones who, yeah. Jas definitely playing

Speaker 1 (01:29:16):

Tickets for you. And, and then your brother helped. Yes. <inaudible> as taking you through Europe?

Speaker 2 (01:29:22):

No, no, no, no, no. That was your brother. Yes. Yes. And, and my, uh, my, my aunt, I don't forget my, my father sacrificed his life so that he could send money to his sisters who are already, you know, they were all in, uh, need of money. I, to, to maintain a, a standard of life in, uh, the states and in Canada, they needed money. So whatever he was sending, you know, like, so, you know, it, it kind of helped us also when we

Speaker 1 (01:29:54):

Started. So he's sending this money the course before the 1960s, um, when he's able to,

Speaker 2 (01:30:00):

Yeah, yeah, no, no, no. Throughout the sixties. Throughout the sixties. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (01:30:05):

So wire money to,

Speaker 2 (01:30:06):

Uh, not wire. No. You had to use special, uh, mules.

Speaker 1 (01:30:09):

I see. I got it. Okay. So you were saying that, uh, that, uh, your, your father was sending money. Um, uh, but it seems like it's like hot, cold, like you have these restrictions. Yes. And there's nothing. And then all of a sudden it opens up again and you can do things, right. Um, well, how did that affect you then personally, in terms of what was going on in Iraq?

Speaker 2 (01:30:35):

Well, I like, I, I told you, I, I finished my baccalaureate in 67, between 67 and 71. Those were real dire times for the Jewish community. So my father, for example, I, he has a clinic, but the patients were not coming because they were afraid of the intelligence officers. Uh, they would tell them, you know, and, and they were, they were told in no, uh, very plainly do not go to, uh, Jewish doctors do not go to Jewish profession. There was none. In fact, the ones that had a business, they lost their business, the ones that had a job that didn't exist anymore. Uh, in fact, uh, the school, which Frankini, it was a Jewish school. Uh, the, the teachers were not Jewish, but they were told after 67 said, do not, uh, uh, work in that school because it's a Jewish school. So you have a school with, uh, students and no teachers.

Speaker 2 (01:31:38):

So they had to, I was called upon to go and help because whatever, I, you know, I, I'm not a teacher certified teacher, but I could help with the younger children and teach, uh, French, math, whatever. And, and that was the case of a few of us that were called upon. So I, so that's an example. Uh, my dad lost all his income from the clinic because nobody was coming and nobody was paying. Uh, so that, that, and then they froze the bank accounts were not allowed to sell any assets. Uh, so that's really starvation and here is a well to do, uh, family that is starving. So, uh, and me, I, I, you know, like, oh, Hey, I can go and work. And that's when I went to find a job at the Belgian embassy. And, but for my father, it was traumatic. He, he, he sat me down. He was crying. He said that, you know, like part of his culture was that, uh, he, he can provide for his family. And certainly no daughter of his was going to have to work, which was a, quite a contrast. I was so happy to come, you know, like whatever I, I earned a few before I was let go, uh, I was happy to come and say, Hey, I have some money. And, uh, my father crying, saying that, uh, you know, he feels, uh, humiliated that his daughter has to go out and work.

Speaker 2 (01:33:15):

It was, uh,

Speaker 1 (01:33:16):

Well also, I mean, I don't know how much, how much feminism was there yet. I mean, you talked about people wearing, you know, the, uh, hippy skirts and the yeah. Dress, whatever, um, which maybe you wore, I don't know, but, but, um, but then, you know, in, in, in Muslim culture, it's more traditional than, than Western culture. And, and, um, and here you're a very educated person, your father's a doctor lived in France. And, um, and so you have a taste of feminism let's say in some way. And how does, and this conversation with your father is in a sense, um, on the one hand, uh, the feminist in speaking, and on the other hand, the traditionally, I don't know, is that, is that more or less what's going on here? <laugh>

Speaker 2 (01:34:05):

But it was not, uh, just, uh, the Jewish community that would you forget. It was, uh, the mu the Beatles and the Western music. And, uh, uh, even the Muslims were, uh, also getting into trouble the same way, uh, because when the police were running after the miniskirts and painting, uh, their uncles, uh, and all that, uh, actually what happened was the daughter of, one of the ministers got caught and the police running after her. And, and she got like, she was trying to run away. She crossed the street, she got into an accident, died. She lost her life that made the news that, that was terrible. So they suffered from the same thing because Abdu Kerry pass them. He, he kind of he's he out, he didn't want the veil anymore. And it was open society. Women can work, women can go go and study. So there was a liberation, I, even, if it was three, four years before they started to CLA down, it doesn't take long for the young people, no matter what religion to, to, to, you know, to, yeah. Feminism was, uh,

Speaker 1 (01:35:19):

Well, once it's outta the bag,

Speaker 2 (01:35:20):

Exactly. You can't put it back. You can put it back. I mean, this, you hear the same thing, like in Iran, as, as much as they clump down and the, the, the, the molas and all of that in private, they are, they put makeup, they get dressed to the health. They're doing good music, they're dancing.

Speaker 1 (01:35:41):


Speaker 2 (01:35:42):

So it's, they can't put it in the bag. No, the genie is out of the bag.

Speaker 1 (01:35:46):

So Jas helps you, uh, and your parents are in Montreal, Your apartment for you and you go to school. Yes. And how does life change for you

Speaker 2 (01:35:58):

Night and day? All I wanted was, uh, to, to party and to, to see people, uh, in fact, the first year in McGill, I hardly made it to class. I was constantly uh Galavan and, uh, and you that's, when you discover, you know, you can go at all hours of the night, you are out. And in fact, I was, it was the first month, it was two o'clock in the morning. And, uh, there were three of us on St. Catherine students from Miguel and the police came to, to see us, but they were very friendly. Like, we were not scared of them. And they were asking us for our numbers. <laugh> <laugh> what are you doing here? Can you give us your numbers? So,

Speaker 1 (01:36:47):

And did you speak French or English?

Speaker 2 (01:36:49):

Uh, both.

Speaker 1 (01:36:50):

So the policeman would be in French.

Speaker 2 (01:36:53):

English was in French,

Speaker 1 (01:36:55):

So it was much more in English. Yeah. Kind of, uh, situation.

Speaker 2 (01:37:00):

Yeah. Magill university, uh, St. Catherine was, uh, right.

Speaker 1 (01:37:04):

And did you, uh, did you hang with, um, other Iraqi MMS or other Shar D or was it just sort of whatever students at McGill?

Speaker 2 (01:37:14):

No, I was with students at McGill. I wasn't interested in, uh, say Iraqi's and going back, I wanted to discover the world. Finally, I'm out of the, <laugh> coup I'm discovering the world, but yes. Uh, you go back and you, there's a family. There is the holidays, the synagogue. So yeah, you, you see them, you're not completely away from them. And, uh, I was of a, a marriageable age and, uh, they were all, uh, sending, uh, connections. <laugh> you wanna go out with my son? My son is so and so <laugh>.

Speaker 1 (01:37:52):

So what do you, did you end up marrying?

Speaker 2 (01:37:55):

No idea. I was not interested at that. I wanted to finish my degree and I was not interested.

Speaker 1 (01:38:02):

So in the seventies then, you're you go to McGill

Speaker 2 (01:38:06):

Or you study? I studying French literature. And mainly because I didn't have to study <laugh> I had already done that in with the, a level with the caloria in French. I, I knew every I could teach them. So I wasn't, uh, interested really in studying. I was, it was, uh, to, to, it was a cover to, for me to discover the world. And the first summer, uh, I went back to Exxon PANCE. I went to university. It was a time of my life. You go to Exxon PANCE to do an exchange. And, uh, they were all American kids that was there for the summer. And we did not go to class, not one day, as soon as I arrived, they were making plans to go around, uh, uh, south of France. We pile up in a couple of cars. Americans are wealthy and well to do so we piled up in a couple of cars. We went around all of the south of France. We came back, the course was finished. We went to see the professor. Okay. We need the <laugh>.

Speaker 1 (01:39:17):

Did you, uh, at that time go to central bank?

Speaker 2 (01:39:20):

Yes, of course.

Speaker 1 (01:39:21):

The beaches were quite different, weren't

Speaker 2 (01:39:23):

They? Yes. Yes. Definitely

Speaker 1 (01:39:26):

Very different than Iraq.

Speaker 2 (01:39:27):

Oh, yes. Oh yes. Montreal <laugh> <laugh>. Um,

Speaker 1 (01:39:35):

So, um, so you come back to Montreal after, and you get your degree and then you go on to graduate school,

Speaker 2 (01:39:41):

Or? Yes. Uh, I did. My master's also in French literature because, uh, well, after you finish your bachelor, uh, you, you, I discovered that you cannot teach. Yeah. You need a certificate. So instead of doing a certificate teaching certificate, which wasn't, I wasn't interested in that it was very limited. And I went, uh, I started doing my masters in French literature. Then I switched to, uh, business, uh, master MBA. I did my MBA ATI at McGill.

Speaker 1 (01:40:15):

So the seventies is basically the life of a student more or

Speaker 2 (01:40:18):

Less. Yeah. But in 1977, I, uh, uh, applied to IBM and I got accepted. And that also was, uh, an amazing time, even for IBM, because I was amongst the first, uh, uh, professional women that they hire. They, yes, they had their secretaries and, uh, support staff, but they did not have professional women, uh, working. And that, that it was an amazing time because I remember I was, uh, assigned a sales job, uh, first a technical job, because you had to learn about computers and all that. And, uh, you join your, uh, group. And I was the only woman in the group. And, uh, and you had these, they were staring at me the first day I showed up to a meeting and the first day I said, are you gonna get us coffee? I, I said, no, you go get coffee. And, uh, and, and then they, they, they were, they didn't say anything, but after the meeting, they went to see the, the manager and they, they said, you know, this, uh, woman she's, uh, has a difficulty. And, uh, you know, like, uh, she's wearing makeup. Uh, you know, we can't concentrate. <laugh> on

Speaker 1 (01:41:37):

<laugh> <laugh>,

Speaker 2 (01:41:42):

But that was the beginning of women in professional. Uh, in fact, before I even joined IBM, I tried a stint in as a real in real estate. And, uh, I, I went to see a guy to get a listing of a property. And he looked at me and he says, shouldn't you be wearing a, a business suit? I said, excuse me, <laugh> why do I need a business? He says, well, you, you are a woman. You can't come in a skirt.

Speaker 1 (01:42:14):

<laugh> it was a different time,

Speaker 2 (01:42:16):

Different times. Did

Speaker 1 (01:42:18):

You continue living with your parents at home?

Speaker 2 (01:42:20):


Speaker 1 (01:42:21):

So all this time, you're still with your parents

Speaker 2 (01:42:23):

At home? Not exactly because, uh, with the help of my brother, my brother wanted me to get a, a good thing. And he knew that if I stay with my parents, not, not gonna be able to go at two o'clock in the morning to St. Catherine or, uh, to night clubs. And so, uh, he, uh, arranged for me to live at the residence McGill residence. And that was also a in under transformation having come at the end of the summer, there were no more places in the women's residence at McGill, but that year, as it happened, they opened an experimental co coeducational, uh, residence one floor. And then I, I just arrived at the, when they were making the decision. So I, I got a, a room.

Speaker 1 (01:43:19):

Is this off Sherbrook

Speaker 2 (01:43:21):

Up on the mountain, up on the mountain. Up on, yeah. Up university up university. Okay. Yeah. Uh, McConnell McConnell,

Speaker 1 (01:43:27):


Speaker 2 (01:43:27):

Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, so I, but we had to sell that to my parents. Not gonna tell them that she's going to co-ed resident. So my brother engineered everything. Uh, he, he said he brought them, you know, and of course there's a doorman. He says, this guy, his job is to make sure that there is no men that come after eight o'clock they close the doors. No men are alive. <laugh> right.

Speaker 1 (01:43:59):

Your parents bought it

Speaker 2 (01:44:01):

<laugh> they didn't know any better. And so actually my father knew, but he, he kept quiet.

Speaker 1 (01:44:07):

So when you, your parents would, um, so I'm, I'm just trying to connect back now to the Jewish. So did Israel play any role in the seventies when you were there or you're sort of, you know, uh, it wasn't like you joined a hill or Jewish student organization or anything, did you

Speaker 2 (01:44:24):

Do any of that? Yes. Hillel was, uh, so you did, you were,

Speaker 1 (01:44:27):

Remember how, yeah. You attended various Jewish

Speaker 2 (01:44:30):

Events. Very lightly. Very, very lightly.

Speaker 1 (01:44:32):

Uh, when, um, uh, when Passover came, for example. Yeah. Um, your parents would still have

Speaker 2 (01:44:39):

Yes. Yes, absolutely.

Speaker 1 (01:44:39):

And you would go home for that

Speaker 2 (01:44:40):


Speaker 1 (01:44:41):

Yes. And, and you would meet, uh, bread during this

Speaker 2 (01:44:44):

Period? Yes. Yes.

Speaker 1 (01:44:45):

And, and, um, and if there were for pace off or Kipper or something, you'd go to the Spanish porch, you'd be synagogue. But that, but it was very, it was that kind of limited.

Speaker 2 (01:44:56):

Yes. Yes. But, but we kept, those traditions were sacred, sacred,

Speaker 1 (01:45:01):

And your parents would continue having D FNA and these different cooking.

Speaker 2 (01:45:06):

The Dina is not Iraqi. So what is Dina is, uh, Moroccan and north African. What did, did

Speaker 1 (01:45:12):

You call

Speaker 2 (01:45:12):

It? The other one? Toit

Speaker 1 (01:45:14):

Beat, sorry. Tobe. I'm getting confused. Tobe. Yes. So they would continue to beat and all that kind of stuff. Yes. So that, so you still had that Iraqi food

Speaker 2 (01:45:23):

Culture? I say yes. When I invited my Canadian friends for supper at home, they loved food. Right. This was this exotic.

Speaker 1 (01:45:31):

Yeah. And, um, and you continued to have Turkish coffee or not, because now you had, uh, you know, cafe or that, I mean, did you switch?

Speaker 2 (01:45:42):

Yeah. No, not too much. Turkish coffee? No, <laugh> no.

Speaker 1 (01:45:47):

Um, so what happens then? You, you, in the eighties, uh, how does life change for you?

Speaker 2 (01:45:52):

You get married? Well, I got married in 81.

Speaker 1 (01:45:54):

Got married in 81. And your husband, what's his name?

Speaker 2 (01:45:57):

Donald QAN. And

Speaker 1 (01:45:59):

Where, uh, was do born

Speaker 2 (01:46:02):

In, uh, uh, he was born in Iraq, but really he was, he had left, uh, like he was one week old or something like that. Uh, his, his parents were living in, uh, Iran in Carmen SHA, and, uh, but they really grew up in Lebanon.

Speaker 1 (01:46:21):

Oh. But they, his parents grew up in Lebanon?

Speaker 2 (01:46:23):

No, not his parents. He grew up in Lebanon, grew up. Yeah. After they married his parents, they lived in Lebanon, Beirut, Beirut, but, uh, his mother came from Carmen SHA. They were Iraqi's living in Carmen SHA.

Speaker 1 (01:46:37):

And when did he live Beru? At what age did he leave Beru?

Speaker 2 (01:46:42):

Uh, 67. When, uh, because he, he, when he came, it was expo 67 and his first job was, uh, at XPO 67.

Speaker 1 (01:46:53):

And what year was he born?

Speaker 2 (01:46:55):


Speaker 1 (01:46:56):

  1. Okay. So he, uh, so in other words, these were the good years of, uh, of Lebanon.

Speaker 2 (01:47:03):

Yes. Last it was absolutely

Speaker 1 (01:47:04):

Before the civil war, the seventies, it was before the six day war, whatever. I mean, you know, it was, um,

Speaker 2 (01:47:12):

So you said, but they also had, they knew that they had to leave Lebanon. Why would they live a good life in Lebanon? They had to leave. They felt the pressure.

Speaker 1 (01:47:23):

Right. But it was a different kind of pressure in Lebanon than it wasn't Iraq. Yes. Their, their assets were frozen. Their

Speaker 2 (01:47:29):

That's correct. It was it different? Yeah. Different.

Speaker 1 (01:47:32):

Yeah. But they knew they had to leave.

Speaker 2 (01:47:33):


Speaker 1 (01:47:34):

Got the visa to come to Montreal. Yes. And so by 81, your husband was what, uh, what was his profession?

Speaker 2 (01:47:41):


Speaker 1 (01:47:42):

So he studied in

Speaker 2 (01:47:44):


Speaker 1 (01:47:44):

McGill also became a lawyer, was pro and lawyer. Yeah, you're married. And then you have

Speaker 2 (01:47:50):

How we met because, uh, his sister was studying French, the French at McGill.

Speaker 1 (01:47:55):

Ah, so it, it was, um, again a connection.

Speaker 2 (01:48:00):

Yes, yes. Yes.

Speaker 1 (01:48:02):

And does he speak Arabic?

Speaker 2 (01:48:04):


Speaker 1 (01:48:05):

And did you speak to him in Arabic or was it just French and English?

Speaker 2 (01:48:09):

Well, yeah, he speaks fluently, uh, Lebanese

Speaker 1 (01:48:13):

At different

Speaker 2 (01:48:13):

Dialect, different dialect, but you understand each other? Yeah.

Speaker 1 (01:48:17):

Do you speak Arabic together

Speaker 2 (01:48:18):

Or? Uh, very little, very little. Uh, now we speak more. It's funny with age, we speak more, but at the time, no, no, we was English.

Speaker 1 (01:48:28):

And, uh, you have children.

Speaker 2 (01:48:31):


Speaker 1 (01:48:31):

And their names are,

Speaker 2 (01:48:33):

Uh, Phillip and Amanda

Speaker 1 (01:48:34):

And Phillip. Phillip was that, uh, born what year?

Speaker 2 (01:48:38):

80? 82.

Speaker 1 (01:48:40):

And, and, uh,

Speaker 2 (01:48:41):

Amanda was born in nineteen eighty five, eighty five.

Speaker 1 (01:48:45):

And, and, um, so your kids now are growing up in Montreal. Yeah. And, and, um, and you're a financial manager or a yes.

Speaker 2 (01:48:56):

Whatever. Well, I worked for IBM for many years and then, and then became a financial, uh, management management consultant.

Speaker 1 (01:49:04):

And, and, um, your husband's a lawyer mm-hmm <affirmative> and your kids go to what school, what school do you send them to?

Speaker 2 (01:49:11):

Uh, Marita France. They went to Akiva Jewish school because we wanted them to grow up with, uh, Jewish traditions. So the elementary school was taught at Akiva Jewish school. And then we, they had to become more proficient in French if they were to work in Montreal. So they, we sent them to Marita France.

Speaker 1 (01:49:32):

And what language did you speak at home?

Speaker 2 (01:49:34):


Speaker 1 (01:49:35):

Spoke English. And so they, they, uh, were they members of any kind of Jewish organizations at all? Uh, did you guys become members of Jewish organizations?

Speaker 2 (01:49:45):

No. Apart from the synagogue? No.

Speaker 1 (01:49:47):

And did your, did uh, Felipe have a bar

Speaker 2 (01:49:50):

Mitzvah? Of course.

Speaker 1 (01:49:51):

Yes. And your daughter about mitzvah? Yes. And was this at the Spanish Portuguese? Yes. Or, and, and, um, and so, um, when you, when you think in terms of, um, the, I guess the eighties, the nineties, um, did you go visit Israel at all? Did you ever take trips to Israel?

Speaker 2 (01:50:16):

Not right then. Uh, but later, yes. That's when I took an interest in, uh, Tel Aviv university. And, uh, yeah, I became, uh, actually, uh, it was Stan Iman with justice, for Jews, from Arab countries that, uh, got me interested in all of that. And I was, uh, uh, Lizette and I were invited to speak at the, uh, at the house of parliament. And then we, we went to England actually, that's where we met you and I, but you don't remember <laugh> and that's when Irwin Koler spoke to the house of Lords.

Speaker 1 (01:50:55):


Speaker 2 (01:50:56):

Remember, yes.

Speaker 1 (01:50:57):

I actually do remember.

Speaker 2 (01:50:59):

Okay. I do

Speaker 1 (01:50:59):


Speaker 2 (01:51:00):

Okay. So,

Speaker 1 (01:51:01):

Because I remember there was this, you know, a small group and I met, uh, Lynn Julius then yes. And died and, you know, and there were a whole bunch of people. Yes. Uh, who were involved there. Weren't a lot of people.

Speaker 2 (01:51:13):

No, no. A lot of us, yeah, there were, yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (01:51:16):

Um, uh, there's another woman, Lily. I forget her name. She's in Bahrain. Um,

Speaker 2 (01:51:23):

No, no, no. Uh, Bahrain is Nono. I,

Speaker 1 (01:51:27):

Yeah, but I, but, but I, yeah, over the years, you know, as I meet various people, then they go back and I actually can see that table, uh, where we're all we're sitting around, um, in, so <affirmative>, and so, so I would say for the last 15 years, at least you've been very involved. Yes. This issue of yes. Of, uh, Jews displaced from, uh, the Arab world. And what made you turn to this?

Speaker 2 (01:51:54):

Because it's, uh, the more you hear every day, there is something on the, uh, on the radio, on the news, you know, like justice, human rights, uh, this and that. And this is basic human rights that we, we, that the history does not recount, it's silenced. Nobody talks about it. And for a long time, Israel did not talk about it for, I never heard that. And that's why, you know, like you asked me about Israel for a long time. I, I couldn't fathom why they wouldn't talk about it. Uh, most of the first, because they, they said, okay, we were protecting the Jews who are still in the Arab countries, and we don't wanna talk about this and all that, but then there's hardly any Jews left and they're still not talking about it. And then it's, it was about, uh, yeah, we, uh, we don't want it yet to be an issue in, uh, we're talking about peace, uh, this, and what we hear about, uh, the Palestinians, uh, asking for writeoff return, uh, asking for their assets to be compensated.

Speaker 2 (01:53:01):

And here we are, you know, we all lost our assets. Uh, we, we were forced out of our, of the Arab countries. We didn't leave out of our, uh, you know, because we wanted to, we were forced and we lost all of our assets and nobody was talking about it. And that that's very, uh, disturbing and annoying. And, uh, I, I, it is the first thing I pick up in the news is, uh, how, uh, uh, unfair the United nations is in treating, uh, all the refugee problem from Arab Jews, from Arab countries versus Palestinians who left not of their it's. They left because the Arab countries told them to leave.

Speaker 2 (01:53:51):

So it's, it was like, to me, it's very unfair. This treatment, we were forced, we lost everything and nobody talks about it. And the Palestinians, first of all, if you are a refugee, you're a refugee for one year, you cannot continue to be considered refugee for 70 years after the fact. And yet we're, they're still talking about it and nobody talks about our, uh, case. So that's why I, I feel I have to get involved. I have to, uh, support the cause. This has to be, uh, brought into daylight, cannot silence, keep it under covers.

Speaker 1 (01:54:29):

When was the, is there an event that triggered this? I mean, uh, here you are in London, speaking here you are. Uh, when you spoke at the house, commons was actually many years later. Um, cuz I think the conference was 2 0 7, 2 0 8. And you spoke, I think two 50. He was much, much later,

Speaker 2 (01:54:45):

Uh, 2013.

Speaker 1 (01:54:46):

Yeah. So it was, so was there any event that was triggering this like to you like Stan? I mean it's, he's Ashkenazi. I mean it's what triggered it. Was there something happening in terms of your reflection or um, I mean, what, what moved you to

Speaker 2 (01:55:09):

IWiN Kotler Irwin, Kotler? When he spoke to at the house of Lords, he spoke about the injustice that were, that is nobody is speaking about and that there should be a redress and restitution and he used amazing words eloquent to speak of it. And that was the first time like I heard it said in a, in a way that, you know, that made sense to me that, uh, echoed the feelings that I had and that all my friends have when we discuss amongst ourselves. And uh, so yeah, I became, I, I wanted to become an activist and I, I, if I am given the opportunity, I'll always be for that. Cause.

Speaker 1 (01:55:55):

And in this, um, period 85, um, 80, when you're married 91, 2001, are you starting to reconnect to, uh, the Iraqi community in Montreal?

Speaker 2 (01:56:08):

Yes. Very much. Very much so. Yes.

Speaker 1 (01:56:12):

Um, and uh, how is that happening through what, what is the triggers that are doing that?

Speaker 2 (01:56:18):

Uh, mostly the sisterhood at the synagogue. Um, and also, well, you know, so members like my parents were, uh, becoming, uh, older and they were, uh, moving on and uh, passing on. And, and so you, you reconnect you with your roots and the, the other members of the community become dear to you because they were friends of your family and, uh, they have the same culture. And, and so you wanna keep that, uh, flame going.

Speaker 1 (01:56:53):

So how do you preserve your spar heritage now

Speaker 2 (01:56:58):

With difficulty

Speaker 1 (01:57:00):


Speaker 2 (01:57:02):

With difficulty? Well, the, the holidays is not a problem because we still, uh, uh, celebrate the same way we did, uh, with my parents. And, uh, the synagogue, uh, is basically safari. So all the, the festivities and the, uh, rituals are safari. Uh, so that's not a problem. Uh, the problem comes when you're trying to, to raise your children into that culture and with the freedom that they have and, uh, uh, the secularism that they're surrounded with, it becomes quite a challenge.

Speaker 1 (01:57:40):

So you are, how so, how would you define yourself in terms of your identity? Right? Say, who are you, how would you define

Speaker 2 (01:57:49):

Yourself? I'm a safari Jew, conservative Jew.

Speaker 1 (01:57:54):

Um, would you say you're Iraqi or Babylonian?

Speaker 2 (01:58:01):

I, I, I am Iraqi because I am born when the, the country was called Iraq. So I am Iraqi.

Speaker 1 (01:58:10):

And do you sit, consider yourself a refugee or a migrant, or how do you define yourself from a human rights perspective?

Speaker 2 (01:58:18):


Speaker 1 (01:58:20):

And where is home for you?

Speaker 2 (01:58:23):

Canada. Montreal.

Speaker 1 (01:58:26):

And what identity do you think you passed on to your children?

Speaker 2 (01:58:32):

I think that I gave them a lot of freedom to discover themselves what they want their identity to be. So, uh, that's still in transformation.

Speaker 1 (01:58:43):

So if I said to your daughter, Amanda, how do you define yourself? What do you think

Speaker 2 (01:58:47):

She would say ask her? I can tell you my, my in, uh, my son's case, uh, his wife, uh, who is a Ashkenazi or half Ashkenazi, uh, because her mother is British. Uh, she converted and, uh, she maintains a very good, she espoused the tradition, the Shardi tradition. And, uh,

Speaker 1 (01:59:12):

But would Philippe say I'm a Canadian?

Speaker 2 (01:59:14):

Yes. We all say we are Canadian Canadian,

Speaker 1 (01:59:17):

Right. So I'm wondering is, is, is ethnicity or religion or nationality or how it plays out in, uh,

Speaker 2 (01:59:26):

Uh, no, we are, we are Canadian. We are Canadian by, uh, by choice in, in, in our, in my case they were born Canadian, but, uh, we are very proud of being Canadian.

Speaker 1 (01:59:41):

So, so if you think of Canada, because you came in 71, so, uh, you know, you've been there most of your life. Um, how would you, if someone says, well, what was Canada? What, what did Ken give you? What would you respond to that?

Speaker 2 (01:59:58):

Well, Canada helped us. Uh, and this is part of the narrative that you are missing. Uh, Canada helped 17 families with the help of, of obviously of Jas to come out of Iraq. And the reason was that, uh, Iraq was undergoing, uh, a very bad crop for a couple of years when they're, uh, an exporter of grain. And all of a sudden they have no harvest for a couple of years and they were starving, literally starving. And, uh, Canada is an exporter of grain as well. So they had to seek, uh, grain imports from Canada. And that's when JS had their chance to negotiate the exits of, uh, so, and that's when they started having a relationship with Canada now that I'm sure there is a consulate, there is an embassy, there's everything, but at the time there wasn't, and, uh, they had to negotiate, uh, imports of grain. And that gave us our chance. We were traded for grain.

Speaker 1 (02:01:11):


Speaker 2 (02:01:11):

Then you got, we got our freedom because Canada traded grain and made it, uh, giant along, could not have extracted us from Iraq. It would not have happened. There was a paramount, an, an additional pressure to get them to release us. And that was when they needed grain very badly. And Canada made it their business to make a conditional on us, leaving and, uh, for I'll forever, be grateful for Canada to Canada for having arranged that.

Speaker 1 (02:01:47):

So let me, um, two more questions. If you could go back to Iraq, even for a visit, would you do

Speaker 2 (02:01:54):

This? No.

Speaker 1 (02:01:57):

And the last question I'd like to ask you is, um, uh, what message would you, uh, like to give to anyone who has listened to this interview

Speaker 2 (02:02:10):

That you, you have to stick to your beliefs? Human rights is a very important issue, and there is human rights violation all over the world for different reasons, different people, different religions, and, and the people that are caught up in those situations need help. And they need activism from people that are free and they can afford to do that. So, yes, the URS, the, uh, Ethiopian, the there's lots of people that are being, uh, discriminated against and they deserve attention. And if we, the free people do not pay attention to their situation, it's hopeless for them. I, I would like to feel that I am a voice of hope for them just as they were a voice. Some people were a voice of hope for us when we were in Iraq.

Speaker 1 (02:03:11):

Well, I, I do hope that people hear that message. It's so important. It's really the mission of spread voices to bring safari voices, uh, to bear. So I want to thank you so much for taking a few hours for your time to share your story. And I look forward to, uh, seeing it as part of the

Speaker 2 (02:03:32):

Collection. Thank you for your time, interviewing me and thank you for all your efforts, your Ashkenazi, and you took interest in the safari, uh, voices. Uh, that's very much to your credit. Thank you.