Lili Hazan Brode
March 6, 2013
I was born in Alexandria Egypt. My parents were born in Egypt and so were my maternal grandparents.
My paternal grandparents were born in Turkey and migrated to Egypt early in their marriage and became successful business owners of a large toy store in the center of Alexandria, Rue Zaad Zaghlool across from Orosdibek.
They also owned a building not far from where we lived in Cleopatra. My maternal great grandparents were born in Yaffo, in the old Palestine and Baghdad, Iraq. They also worked very hard and became successful and handed down to us the beautiful apartment with very high ceilings and very large verandas were I was able to develop my love of gardening by helping to take care of the many beautiful potted plants.
Needless to say we left in 1962 with nothing but a few suitcases and 10 Egyptian pounds for each family member.
I was 14 years old when we left Egypt and I remember the humiliation and abuse we were subjected to every day. In 1956 my mother removed my chain with the Jewish star and told me to be very careful about every word I said in public or my father would end up in Jail like many of our friends and relatives.
I knew many people whose young 18 and 19 year old boys were jailed or hung because the Egyptians believed every young and old Jew was a Zionist. In my Jewish school which was attached to the Eliyahou Hanavi synagogue, I experienced direct anti-Semitic lectures about the Jews who stole Israel and humiliating discussions about the Jewish people.. I was often asked to repeat these awful slurs against my Jewish people and I would start to cry or explain that I didn’t understand the lecture which resulted in more punishments.
We arrived in Paris with papers that said we were stateless refugees with no right of return.
We lived in an old hotel all of us in one room with a bathroom down the hall.
I thank the Hias for their help in Paris and in our establishment in the U.S., where we started a new life I thank God that I live in a free country and I am able to achieve anything I work hard for, and especially I am free to be a Jew and say it proudly.