EgyptThe Mizrahi Project

Joe & Remy's Story - "Go and Step Ahead"

EgyptThe Mizrahi Project
Joe & Remy's Story - "Go and Step Ahead"

Watch Joe & Remy's Story

Joe Pessah was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1945. He was born into a family whose Egyptian roots went back multiple generations. Remy Pessah (Née Raymonde Gazzar) was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1947.

Joe and Remy’s first encounter with one another was in 1960, when they were in their teens. They were part of an after school program which was dedicated to teaching Hebrew — Remy was the student, Joe was her tutor.

After finishing primary school, Joe made the decision to study electrical engineering at the University of Cairo. A few years later, Remy enrolled at the American University of Cairo, to study Chemistry and Physics.

Through the years, Joe and Remy’s love for each other grew stronger and in 1966 they became engaged. The pair was making plans to marry in 1968. However, everything changed in June of 1967, during the outbreak of the Six-Day-War — a war in which Egypt, along with other Arab Nations declared war on Israel. Although it was unexpected, Israel emerged from the war victorious. Following Egypt’s defeat, the government sought to take revenge — turning their anger on Jewish citizens within their own country.

The Egyptian government began a systematic campaign of oppression against Jewish citizens — by rounding up Jewish men between the ages of 18 through 55, and placed them in detention camps. Joe was imprisoned, subjected to torture, and had no contact with any of his loved ones for numerous months.

Remy endured months of uncertainty, not having any knowledge of Joe’s condition — whether he was even alive, or if she would ever see him again. Eventually, Remy received word from Joe, and was finally allowed to visit him — but only for a few minutes, each month. For the next couple years, Remy continued to visit Joe any time she was allowed.

In June of 1970, after a total of three years in the detention camp, the Egyptian government released Joe and the other prisoners, after receiving outside pressure to do so. Upon release, the Egyptian government annulled the prisoners citizenship and expelled them from Egypt.

Joe fled from Cairo, with only the clothes on his back. He traveled to France, where Remy planned to meet up with him in a few days. The pair stayed in France for six months, and then moved to the United States.

After arriving in the United States the pair made their home in California. Remy enrolled in San Jose State University, where she would earn a Bachelor's of Science in Chemistry. Joe and Remy went on to have two sons, David and Jacob. David currently lives in Israel, and Jacob remains in California.

Despite the oppression and cruelty Joe and Remy have experienced in their lives, they have chosen not to live in the past. Realizing that anger will only hold them back, they choose to move forward.