Watch Rachel's Story
- The Video below contains Arabic subtitles -
Rachel Wahba was born in 1946. Her heritage is Egyptian-Iraqi, yet she was born in India, and grew up in Japan.
Rachel’s parents were both faced with challenges growing up in their home countries. Although Jews in Egypt and Iraq have a rich history, they were forced to live as second class citizens, or “Dhimmi”, which means they are not granted the same basic human rights as Muslim citizens.
In 1939, Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” became a bestseller in Egypt. At the time, Rachel’s father, Moussa, was living in Cairo. Having the understanding that it was no longer safe for him there, he made the decision to move to Baghdad, Iraq. When things became unsafe there, he again fled the country, heading to India.
On June 1st and 2nd of 1941, Rachel’s mother, Khatoon, lived through the Farhud which took place in Iraq. It was a horrific event in which Iraqi Muslims devastated the Jewish quarter of Baghdad — hundreds of Jews were murdered, thousands injured, and countless homes and businesses were burned. Surrounded by violence and uncertainty in Iraq, Khatoon and her family came to the conclusion they needed to leave the country. The family made their way to India.
In 1944, in Bombay, Moussa and Khatoon met, and married the following year. The pair went on to have two children — Rachel being one of them. In 1949, hoping for better business opportunities, Moussa left for Japan. However, because Khatoon was stateless, it took a considerable amount of effort to have the necessary paperwork to be able to move from India. In 1950, Khatoon, Rachel and her younger brother, were finally able to join Moussa in Japan.
In 1964, Rachel immigrated to the United States. Once there, she went on to become a psychotherapist. She also writes a blog and contributes articles to several online news outlets. Much of Rachel’s writing actively focuses on the cultural diversity which exists within the Jewish community. She currently resides in San Francisco, California, where serves as a speaker and board member for JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to The Middle East and North Africa).