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Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – XC. My Years at 12A Rue Khantaret Ghamra – Entertainment (16 of 30)

Elias Moadab

He was born as Ylya Mohadab Sasson in Cairo, in 1916, to Jewish parents. He lived in Haret El Yahud (Jewish Ghetto in Cairo). He was sent to a prestigious French school, Le Lycee Francais.

Moadab had a short life. He died in 1952 at the age of 36. Nevertheless, he managed to accomplish a lot during this period.

Elias began his artistic career as a singer (monologist) in a famous nightclub, Alooberg. There he met Bishara Wakim and Isma’il Yassin; they were duly impressed by his talent, and they helped him establish himself in the Egyptian film industry.

In addition to movies, he worked in prestigious nightclubs such as El Arizona and Helmia Palace.

He also entertained in weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and other affairs. Engaging him, however, was an expensive proposition.

He acted in a support role in some 17 movies.

Moadab is the other performer that I have had the chance to meet in person on two different occasions.

We were invited to the Bar Mitzvah of a wealthy friend of my father. Elias has been engaged to entertain the guests. He had with him an orchestra and a choir. I quickly realized the difference a true professional can make on a festive soiree like that. He sang, he joked, got his orchestra to perform favorite pieces, and finally, his orchestra played dance music when the time came to dim the lights and allow couples to dance the night away.

He also partook of the buffet, mingled with the crowd, and made everybody feel comfortable in his presence. He was conveying the message that he was an average Jew from Haret El Yahud, nothing more. The same applied to the rest of his group. At the time, people were not obsessed with celebrities the way they are today. Therefore, as far as I remember, no autographs were solicited; no napkins were saved with his signature to show the children and grandchildren that many years back you met with a celebrity.

During Rosh Hashanah (New Year), we (dad, Robert, and myself) went to Temple Hanan for the ritual prayers of that time of year. We were well into the morning when Elias Moadab walked in, put on his Talit (Prayer Shawl), took his assigned seat, and joined the rest of the congregation in their prayers.

Now Egyptians may not ask for your autograph, but if you’re a celebrity, they will ask you pointed questions. And this is what happened at the first break; and Elias was happy to oblige.

Apparently, there had been rumors that he had abandoned his faith. He was here to stress that he was as Jewish as anyone around him. His professional life would never take precedence over his religion.

Why Temple Hanan? He started looking for a vacant seat at the last minute; one was available at Hanan, so he took it.

As far as I remember, the year was 1951. Less than a year later, Elias Moadab was dead after only a five-year career. Before his passing, he affirmed his Jewishness and – if such was required – reconciled with his Maker.

He died on May 28, 1952. In July of that same year, the 1952 Free Officers’ Revolution took place. He had escaped the galut (exile) to which the rest of the Egyptian Jews would be subjected to.

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