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Regarding "The Elias Family" (issue 73)

by Edward Yamen, Milan

I 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.

At 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).

Surprisingly 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.

In 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.

Read article "The Elias Family" from Issue 73


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