"The Elias Family" (issue 73)
Edward Yamen, Milan
am writing to report a story which I heard from my late
grandfather of Baghdad, Yossef Nissim, in relation to an
invitation made by his father-in-law Yahya Dahood Nissan,
for a party in his house honouring Abdalla Eliyahoo on the
occasion of his visit to Baghdad. Notables and friends from
the community were present celebrating the event.
the end of the party, the main guest Abdalla Eliyahoo in
person stood up and addressed the people asking them in
a convincing and friendly manner to give up their old-fashioned
headgears for new modern fez. The name derives
from the town Fez in Morocco from where that headgear was
imported. In later years the fez was imported from Vienna
and the name was changed to Feena a reference to
Vienna which he brought with him to the party in sufficient
numbers in a "chinbeela (an Arabic slang to denote
a very big bag, much bigger than a zinbeel
a basket made of palm leaves).
enough the reaction was favourable and the idea pleased
everyone of the guests whereas the host excused himself
nicely asserting that his attachment to the old way was
too powerful on him.
So the guests left the party happily wearing their new fez,
leaving their old-fashioned things behind, and supposedly
making a big surprise to their wives and families upon their
return home and creating spontaneous joy and natural content
for the "New Look" to their environment.
fact, Abdalla Eliyahoo, unveiled in this story a mix of
grace as well as guts, and if you like, he must have used
as well the conventional wisdom in feeling that the time
of the "Right Moment" was quite ready for that
change. More than all that, the story showed that he had
capabilities of wordpower, good brains and motivation toward
emancipation in fashion.
I seize this opportunity to send you herewith a photo of
my grandfather wearing a fez taken in 1915. Tradition has
it that repeating something in the name of the one who said
it is a great source of merit for that person even
after his passing, thus displaying indebtedness to the source;
and that is what I am now properly doing.
article "The Elias Family" from Issue 73
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