Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Nada Abdel Samad

Short Stories of Lebanese Jews who immigrated… Part 2

Who lived in the Beirut block of Wadi Abu Jamil

By Nada Abdel Samad (Abridged translated from Arabic into English)

Story of Moussa Abadi (Hamadani) and Gmalo

Moussa Abadi (3abadi) is an Iranian Jew who was ordered by his father to move to Lebanon in the 50’s. Moussa learned the business of fabricating and distribution paper from his father’s florishing enterprise during the Rida Shah dictatorship.

The Jewish community in Wadi Abu Jamil aided Moussa in starting his paper industry. As the business prospered, Moussa decided to change his last name to Hamadani.

The Jewish immigrating to Lebanon had 3 choices for their temporal stay:

1. Hotel Tel Aviv owned and run by 3 people: Youssef Paryante, one from the Cohen family and the third by a Safra family.

2. A pansion (a house transformed for welcoming tourists on short term stay) owned by the Jewish Srour family, and

3. A pansion owned by the Jewish Safer family

Moussa married the Jewish Gmalo in an arranged marriage. Gmalo was in love with a Christian Maronite guy but the two families refused mixed marriages and Gmalo settled for the arranged wedding. They moved to the Kantari quarter.

The couple had many daughters and sons. The neighbors of the family were from the Kosba family and became very close.

The Hamadani family prepared the usual lemon rice with onion, a dish that didn’t match the Lebanese cuisine: The saying was “mixing rice with onion, Takhbeessa)” when someone goes on tangents during a discussion on a topic.

The Jewish celebration of Pissah or Easter was a week earlier than the Orthodox celebration. During an entire week, the block of Wadi Abu Jamil and the Street of France was packed with sweet vending merchants.

The unleavened bread was prepared for the Jewish community by the bakery of the Shiaa family of Hamadi. The Jews didn’t fry eggs in butter, on the ground of killing two souls.

The Jewish Agency (located in Hazmieh and in Cyprus) aided all the Abadi daughters and sons to immigrate to Israel. Moussa died of cerebral hemorrhage and was buried in Saida. Gmalo resumed running the business way into the first years of the civil war (1975-1989).  She eventually had to sell and immigrated to France.

Gmalo kept traveling and visiting her family members spread in the two America and Europe.

She met with the son of her best Lebanese friend Hanne in Canada who had opened a flourishing supermarket and called on Hanne once.

Note 1: Unleavened bread is of ancient usage in the Near East because it does not spoil during the hot season and particularly when traveling for long distances.

Note 2: The famous Iranian woman (lawyer/judge) who is engaged in Iran human rights is from the Abadi family.

Read part 1

Short Stories of Lebanese Jews who immigrated…Part 1

Jews who lived in the Beirut block of Wadi Abu Jamil

A book by Nada Abdel Samad (Abridged translation from Arabic into English)

Story of Salim Merzahi and Mary Semmone.

Selim is an Iraqi Jew who fled to Lebanon in the 1950’s during late President Camil Cham3oun. Mary is a Christian who lived in Mazra3a (Beirut) with her brother Isber and mother.

Selim, Isbir and Mary ended up joining the Communist Party and the various syndicates related to their jobs and participated in mass demonstrations.

Selim married Mary in a subdued wedding ceremony as Mary converted to Judaism for the form. They had 4 daughters and a unique boys Marco, the “last of the grape“.

After Israel preemptive war of 1967 against Egypt, Syria and Jordan, The Jewish Agency in Lebanon and Cyprus facilitated the “transfer” of the Jews from Lebanon. The Jews who decided to immigrate to Israel as initial destination were lured by lavished package deals: Free tickets, free hotel stay in Cyprus, an tiny apartment, and promise to locating a job…

The deal was for the new immigrants to remain in Israel for at least 3 years, otherwise, they will have to repay all the initial expenses.

The Lebanese Internal Security knew all the details of the mass transfer and they were ordered to turn a blind eye. Most probably, it is of these Lebanese facilities that Israel viewed Lebanon as a pseudo-State and devastated Lebanon through 5 successive incursions to physically dominate Lebanon.

The new immigrants had to suffer the ignominy of being considered second class citizens for a long time, until the boys serve in the army and the girls marry Ashkenazim Jews.

The Jew from Lebanon knew that they were trading a “happy, comfortable, free, almost tax-free, abundant and inexpensive” life-style to stringent communities in Israel with high cost of living, small apartments, and high taxes to maintain a dominating army.

The Jews from Lebanon were coaxed into believing that they had no choices but to leave, lest they suffer another wave of persecutions, “terrorist activities” against Jewish institutions in Iraq, Egypt, Iran and Syria, and mostly planned and executed by Israel itself in order to force the Jews to immigrate to Israel.

Mary decided to immigrate to Israel in order to secure husbands to her daughters and a future to her son. She didn’t tell her communist members of her departure because by then the Communist Party considered Israel as an occupying force in Palestine.

(Mind you that the Soviet Union of Stalin was the first State to recognize Israel. Stalin was convinced that Israel will be the first communist State in the Middle-East. It turned out that Israel started a capitalist State and remained a liberal capitalist.)

Israel entered Beirut in 1982. Marco paid a visit to his home in Wadi Abu Jamil in a Jeep with two other soldiers and talked to his previous elderly neighbor “Aunt Hanne”.

Mary refrained from any kinds of correspondence with her dear friends in Lebanon, although she could send them letters via Cyprus where the Jewish Agency simply changed mailing envelops.




May 2023

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