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Yusuf Meer

On October 6, 1998, the Iraqi community suffered a loss when Yusuf Meer passed away in Montreal, Canada. Yusuf was a contributor to the Scribe Magazine for many years, submitting old manuscripts and relevant articles, providing old photographs and identifying many of the people in them. He also housed a small library of Iraqi and Sephardi literature and documents while maintaining an international network of friends in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Switzerland, Israel, Iraq, Iran, India, and Australia. He is survived by his wife, Georgette Lawee Meer (Montreal), brothers Haim (Tel Aviv) and Mark (Colorado) sister Violette Murad (New York), son Robert Ezra Meer (Los Angeles) and his wife Caroline Zubaida, and his grandchildren Daniel and Elana.

Yusuf was born in Baghdad August 31, 1919, to Ezra Baroukh Meer and Helwa Meer, the second child and eldest son of five children. He went to school in England in the mid-1930's, then sailed to Boston during W.W.II where he graduated as an Architect from MIT. Following that, he earned his Masters in Architecture at Harvard University in 1943. He then moved to new York City to begin his practice, yet maintaining close contacts with the newly-arrived Iraqis following the end of the war. Yusuf was nearly selected to be the official Iraqi architectural representative for the design and construction of the United Nations building in NYC, only to be rejected by the Iraqi authorities when they realised he was Jewish. He was very involved in the early days of the American Iraqi Association, which enabled all Iraqi Jews to socialise and re-establish their "society." In 1955, after marriage and a child, he moved up to Montreal to involve himself with the then booming real estate development, joining the Lawee brothers, Khedouri (his father-in-law) and Ezra.

Yusuf was a collector and avid hobbyist. He gathered tens of thousands of stamps from around the world, with a nearly complete collection of UN stamps from the 1940's through the 1970's.

Yusuf was a very well read man, articulate and conversant in a multitude of topics. His favourites, however, were the history of the Iraqi Jewish community and of Iraq herself, and the state of affairs in Israel and her neighbours. He recently established a library at the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue in Montreal for the collection of books and documents pertaining to Babylonian Jewry, and other Sepharad. May His memory be blessed.

Correspondence and memories are welcome and may be addressed to Robert Meer in Los Angeles at 17178 Strawberry Drive, Encino, CA, USA 91436-3825. Donations may be made to the Yusuf Meer Memorial Fund, c/o Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue, 4894 St Kevin St., Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3W 1P2.


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