“About a year before we were expelled, we lost everything. They took all our assets and our money and nothing belonged to us any longer except the furniture and the rugs and the cars, although my father had to share the cars with government officials. The question that came to my mind was, and I was 13 years old and I say: Yes! That means we are going to go to Europe! Because I was very excited. Who wanted to spend the rest of his life in Egypt? It was a horrible place. I had no friends, certainly no Jewish friends except for one. There was nothing left for us to do except to go to the movies. It was clear that we were going to end up growing up in Europe: I am here talking about my brother and me. It was going to happen and I was very happy.
My father, on the other hand, on the same day that he lost everything took us all to a restaurant and we had dinner. First we would go to a movie. This was the pattern. We’d go to a movie and then you’d go to the restaurant. This time there was an added bonus. We went to the midnight show, the nine to midnight show, which I was never allowed to go to because it was too late. And after it, at midnight, we went and had dinner, which was like a treat. And suddenly I saw, and I don’t think it was intentional, but I saw a bit of what fun life can be when you have money. Basically, you can do all these things. You can do them whenever you please. And little by little I began to realise that my father really was living a very privileged life, as did my mother. But my father really knew what he wanted in life and he made sure he got it and he wasn’t going to let go of it.
At some point my father ended up having to sell his whole collection of gold coins, just to make ends meet and stay in Egypt and go out to restaurants and go to the cabarets. When that was gone, then he found other things to sell: a whole cutlery set; you know, they all went. Basically, you gave away, down to the last diamond, in order to stay in this wonderful Hollywood existence that he was leading. And I can understand. He would go to cabarets. There were wonderful women. He had friends. He would treat everyone. And as long as he could have that, I think he would have stayed in Egypt until today. The only thing that happened that made him change his mind (I’m exaggerating) is that he was kicked out of the country. They made a decision for him.”
- This account from www.jewishbookweek.com
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