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Excerpt from NO WAY BACK

 From No Way Back: The Journey of a Jew from Baghdad by Professor J. Daniel Khazzoom

"Making it to Harvard: A Long Shot"

Even if I had wanted to stay in Israel, Hebrew University was not a viable option for graduate work. To protect its hegemony, Hebrew University had practically declared war on Tel Aviv’s School of Law and Economics. It didn’t recognize the Tel Aviv diploma and expected Tel Aviv University graduates to start from scratch as candidates for a bachelor’s degree at Hebrew University before applying for graduate school. The antagonism extended to job openings. Hebrew University graduates dominated the top echelons of the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance, Israel’s two leading economic institutions, and they effectively blocked the appointment of Tel Aviv graduates as economists at both.
  I decided to focus primarily on the U.S. in my search for a graduate school. I had a great admiration for the US, its democratic institutions, and its freedom of the press. And I remembered with gratitude the courageous stand of the US Information Center in Baghdad when it defied the Iraqi government’s order to shut down.
At the U.S. embassy’s library in Tel Aviv I unearthed a goldmine:  Voluminous guidebooks to American graduate schools and financial aid. 
Every day after work I combed those guidebooks for schools offering programs in my field, scholarships and loans. I rented an Underwood typewriter, and every evening I sat at my folding table and typed letters to graduate schools and financial-aid organizations. I flooded the market. I wrote to top schools and to schools I had never heard of. Sometimes I was drawn to a marginal school simply because it was located in a region with a balmy climate.
  The workload mounted as the responses began to come in. Sometimes I stayed up until two o’clock in the morning and got up at seven to go to work. The number of letters of reference that my former college instructors had to send on my behalf mounted too. Some accepted the burden cheerfully; others were not so happy about it.
I remember that period as one of utter exhaustion, mixed with a sense of determination.  On the Sabbath I would stay in bed all day to catch up on my sleep. The mounting pressure energized me. Giving up never crossed my mind.
Some of the responses were disappointing. One financial-aid institution advertised that it specialized in scholarships for first-year graduate students indigenous to the Middle East. I was thrilled; I was as indigenous to the Middle East as they come.  This was one application that would bring sure-fire results, or so I thought. But the response to my application made it clear that only Arabs were eligible; Jews were not.
All the other financial-aid institutions I contacted turned me down. 
But there were pleasant surprises, as well. While I was turned down by several lesser schools, such as Alabama State University, I was admitted to a number of elite schools.  I held off responding to any offer until I heard from the prize I sought: Harvard.

When I told friends I had applied to Harvard, they thought I’d taken leave of my senses. 
“No graduate, even from Hebrew University or Technion, is known to have made it to Harvard. You graduated from a dinky little school that no one ever heard of. You are setting yourself up for disappointment,” my friends told me, sometimes gently and sometimes disparagingly.
Others pointed out that Harvard was expensive. The annual tuition fee for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences was $1,000 - among the highest in the U.S. It was a staggering sum by comparison with the annual per-capita income in Israel at the time, which was around $500, as I recall. 
“Are you out of your mind? How are you going to pay for it?” people asked.
 I didn’t have an answer. But I was not deterred.  I clung to my longstanding conviction that lack of money need not be--and should not be--an obstacle to education.  But I had no idea how was I going to implement that lofty principle. I would cross that bridge when I came to it.  
Each of my university applications involved a series of hurdles in the admission process. I never allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the mounds of difficulties that lay ahead. Instead, I focused on one hurdle at a time, the one that lay immediately at hand. Only when I got over that hurdle did I turn my attention to the next. 
I departed only once from that rule, with near-disastrous results. 
When I began applying to graduate schools in July 1957, I had also set in motion an inquiry about getting a visa to the U.S. Obtaining a sponsor’s affidavit for a visa was likely to take time, I figured, and it would be wise to have that out of the way in case I was admitted to a school.
I wrote to David Bassoon, asking for his help getting the necessary affidavit.  David was the manager of the Baghdad branch of Shasha Trading Company, an international company headquartered in New York and owned by the Shashas, a Baghdadian Jewish family. David and his wife, my cousin Grace, had joined my brother Jacob on the trip to Turkey when I was in Marseilles.  I had reestablished contact with them at that time, before they had all returned to Baghdad.
I had to be discreet to evade the censors in Iraq. In my letter to David, I was careful not to reveal my identity—while providing enough hints to let him know who the letter was from and what I was asking.
I sent my letter to the Liverpool branch of the Shasha Trading Company, with instructions to enclose it in one of the company’s official envelopes and mail it on to David in Baghdad. It never occurred to me to ask the company’s secretary to discard my envelope—carrying Israeli stamps and my return address-- before forwarding my letter. I assumed everyone in the Liverpool office knew it was dangerous for Jews living in Iraq to receive correspondence from Israel. I should not have taken anything for granted.
The secretary in Liverpool tucked my envelope and letter into one of the company’s envelopes and mailed it to David. Like all mail addressed to Jewish residents of Baghdad, the letter from Liverpool went first to the censor’s office. Something fortunate happened this time. The censor stamped the envelope “Approved for Delivery” without ever opening it.
When David opened the envelope he was terrified to find inside the incriminating envelope from Tel Aviv.  He couldn’t destroy the evidence without being noticed at the office, or without leaving traces that his Arab employees would discover. So he put the letter in his pocket, walked matter-of-factly out of his office, and headed home. There he burned the envelope. 
Everyone in the family was shaken when they heard the story. My parents, too, would have been implicated had the censor opened the letter.
David was magnanimous about that awful incident. Though I had put him at great risk, he went immediately to work on my request. Less than six months later, I received an affidavit for a U.S. visa from the company’s headquarters in New York. The company’s president, Maurice Shasha, had pledged his company’s assets as collateral. This gesture moved me to tears. I had never met Maurice Shasha, yet he was willing to go to such lengths on my behalf.
When I received the affidavit, I was so moved I cried. I had never met Maurice Shasha, yet he was willing to go to such lengths on my behalf.
The last step in my Harvard application was the requirement that I write an economic analysis on a subject of my choice. Of all the universities to which I had applied, only Harvard had such a requirement. I knew a lot rode on that paper, and I gave it all I had.
 Now there was nothing to do but wait.
 Harvard’s answer came a few weeks later. Academically I was qualified to enroll in the PhD program, without going through the Masters program.
But there was one big hitch.  Before granting me admission, Harvard needed evidence that I had at my disposal $4,800 to cover my first two year’s tuition and living expenses.  I barely had the equivalent of $30 in my bank account.  How was I going to come up with the rest?
Israel’s foreign exchange controls made matters worse. Even if I had had the money in Israeli liras, I couldn’t just walk into a bank and buy dollars.  I needed to apply first to Israel’s Treasury for permission to purchase dollars. That involved extensive paperwork, and it took weeks and months before the Treasury rendered a decision. The Treasury was particularly tight-fisted with hard currency -- dollars and pounds sterling -- and it was guided by a list of priorities, in which graduate work abroad in the social sciences was at the lowest rung. 
Everything seemed to militate against meeting Harvard’s $4,800 requirement.


While working for Bank Leumi, I had learned the intricacies of foreign- exchange controls, the mechanics of applying to the Treasury, and the Treasury’s approval process. I also became familiar with how the bank processed foreign-exchange applications once the Treasury had approved them.  All this came in handy when I needed to show Harvard evidence of financial responsibility.  But, even today, I feel uncomfortable about the devious way I put that knowledge to use.
This is how it worked.
When the Treasury approved an application for foreign exchange, it sent a notice to Bank Leumi, authorizing the bank to sell, say, $5,000 dollars to the applicant. The notice didn’t obligate the applicant to buy all or part of the $5,000. It merely approved her right to do so.
Upon receipt of the Treasury’s approval, Bank Leumi mailed a one-liner to the applicant, addressed to “To Whom It May Concern,” stating,  “This is to certify that the Treasury has allotted to so and so the sum of $5,000.”
That one-liner might work for me if and when I could convince the Treasury to approve my application for $4,800, I figured.  Reading the one-liner, Harvard might conclude that the “allotted” dollars were actually sitting in my bank account, and accept the bank’s letter as evidence of financial responsibility.
It was worth a try. If it worked, it would give me breathing time until I had to face paying my tuition and living expenses. Maybe I could borrow money from an American bank. What basis did I have for expecting that to happen? None, really. The truth is that I had no idea how to finance graduate school, any more than I knew how to pay for my airfare to the U.S.
Harvard had given me only five weeks to give my answer. I appealed to the Treasury committee for urgent consideration, and asked to be present when it took up my application. With trepidation, I traveled to Jerusalem and hand-delivered my application.
The committee called a few days later to say that they expected to consider my application on the following Friday afternoon, and that I would be allowed to attend. 
I was tense the day I received the call. I continued to fret about how to anticipate questions, stay alert, be at my best while I awaited that all-important interview. What if some committee members were graduates of Hebrew University? How would they react to the application of a graduate of Tel Aviv University?   There were civil servants prejudiced against Middle Eastern Jews. What if one or two of them were members of the committee? 
By the end of the day, I realized I would crack if I didn’t stop worrying. There were just too many things to worry about. I had done the best I could. It was time to let go.   I would just be myself at the meeting. If I failed, I would learn from the experience. Maybe I could try again later.
I was at peace with myself.  


On the eve of my meeting with the Treasury committee I went out with Louise Clayton, whom I had met in London at an a cappella concert in a synagogue.  Louise was one of the singers: then twenty-one years old, an only child, and the apple of her parents’ eyes.  She took me to corners of London that I might never have found on my own.  With her, I learned to appreciate good theater and acquired a sense of British history. In the spring of 1957 she had come to Israel for a visit.
 We walked along the beach in Tel Aviv before stopping in a coffee shop. I wanted to be rested the next day, so we cut the evening short and flagged a taxicab. 
The driver took a shortcut through a pitch-dark street in a section of North Tel Aviv under construction. I thought I saw something strange near an apartment building, something that flitted across my line of vision and vanished suddenly.
“Did you notice anything?” I asked the driver.
“I think I saw something.”
 I looked back as we stopped the car. I could see nothing out of the ordinary, but it was so dark I couldn’t be sure.  Something eerie was in the air.
“Shouldn’t we back up to the apartment building and see?” I asked the driver. 
We stopped the car by the building’s entrance. Our headlights threw light on the entrance, but we couldn’t see past the thick hedge in front of the building. The car windows were open, but I couldn’t hear a sound.
“Does anyone hear anything?” I asked.
No one did. I reached for the door handle. 
“Maybe I should go out and look.” 
 Before I got the door open, two men emerged from behind the hedge.   In the headlights I could see they were wearing suits and ties.  The taller of the two carried a briefcase. They brushed their suits with their hands as they proceeded to walk briskly. If these men were as respectable as they looked, I wondered, why did they have to hide behind the hedge?
The cab driver slowly followed them. Suddenly the taller man turned to face the taxi.  He pulled a gun from his pocket, and pointed it at us. It was a small gun, much smaller than any I had seen in the military.  The driver stopped the car.  The man didn’t approach us or say anything. He just stood and stared at us, gun in hand. 
The sight of someone pointing a gun from such close range sent chills up and down my spine. Armed violence was not common in Israel, and I couldn’t believe this was happening.  The figure standing in the pale light, surrounded by darkness, didn’t seem real.    Were we watching a clip from a Western movie?
We decided it was safer not to confront the pair and stayed in the car.  The tall man put the gun in his pocket, and the two resumed their brisk walk.  We drove past and headed for a small movie theater nearby, where the driver said we would find a public phone.
The outside lights of the theater were off, but the door was open and we could see light inside. We walked in, and were startled to find a man lying motionless on the floor. I was afraid to touch him to find out if he was dead.  Drawers were pulled open, a chair was overturned, and papers were strewn everywhere.
I ran to the phone and called the police. They asked us not to leave the scene. 
No sooner had I hung up than the man opened his eyes, groaned and reached a hand behind his head.  He blinked at us and shook his head, grimacing a little.
Bit by bit he told us his story. He worked at the theater and was alone, closing the accounts of the day, when two men wearing suits and ties walked into the theater and demanded that he hand over the cash. He refused. One of the intruders struck him on the head with a sharp object. He couldn’t remember what happened next. 
“Those two men were obviously leaving this place when we ran across them,” I exclaimed.
The taxi driver and Louise nodded in agreement.
It was close to midnight when the police finally showed up. I was worried about my next day’s meeting in Jerusalem.  I needed a restful night. But now that the police had arrived, it should not take us long to report what we had seen and head home.
The police had a different plan.
“We can’t release you yet,” one officer said.
Release you? Were we under arrest? What was going on? We were only doing our civic duty when we reported what we had seen.
It was close to 2 a.m. when the police finally finished taking the report from the theater’s employee, inspecting the drawers, tracking the footprints, and taking measurements. We could go home, but were told to show up the next morning at police headquarters downtown to identify the suspects from a line-up.
“How long will that take?” I asked.
“We don’t know. But you should plan on being there the whole day.”
“I have an important meeting to attend in Jerusalem tomorrow afternoon,” I explained. “Couldn’t it wait until Sunday?”
“We don’t know. You’ll have to show up at 9 am and talk to the station commander. He’s the one to decide.” 
        I was worried and angry that this snag would put an end to everything I had been trying to piece together.   “The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang, aft a-gley,” I thought.  I was an innocent citizen and had committed no crime, yet the police were restricting my freedom of movement.
 I tossed and turned in bed. By the time I fell asleep, I had made up my mind.  I wouldn’t let this new hurdle stand in the way. If the station commander wouldn’t permit me to leave for Jerusalem, I would just take off and worry about the consequences later.
I was at the police station at 9 a.m., tired, incoherent, and tense-- everything I didn’t want to be on the day of my meeting in Jerusalem. The station commander was reluctant to postpone the line-up until Sunday, but, realizing he needed my cooperation, he compromised.  I would leave for Jerusalem when I had to, but return to the station immediately after my meeting.
 In the meantime, one line-up was ready. I joined Louise and the driver in the line-up room.  The scene shocked me.   I shuddered at the thought of mistakenly accusing an innocent man without an airtight alibi.
About a dozen young men stood in the lineup. Except for one who looked defiant, all seemed tired and broken. They must have been yanked out of their beds in the wee hours of the morning. Several avoided eye contact. One had his eyes fixed on the ground the entire time. I tried to remember the features of the two we had encountered the night before. I was never good at recalling facial details. Still I struggled to find any shred of resemblance between them and the men who had threatened us the night before. Finally, I told the station commander I couldn’t in good conscience identify any as a suspect. Louise, on the other hand, pointed out two people without hesitation. 
 Weary with stress, I finally untangled myself from the police and boarded the bus to Jerusalem. I had a short nap on the way and woke up refreshed.


I was alert and focused when I walked into the committee’s room.  Gone were the tension and disorientation I had experienced that morning. I needed to concentrate on the critical business at hand.
The committee was made up of five men and one woman. I only knew the chairman was a Treasury official, a gruff man probably in his mid-fifties. The rest were middle aged, too, and looked tired. My case was apparently the last on the agenda for the day.
From the start, the question was: why spend dollars on funding graduate work abroad when the same could be accomplished at Hebrew University in Jerusalem?  I explained the problem with Hebrew University and challenged the committee members to put themselves in my place. Would they choose to start over from scratch as freshmen at Hebrew University rather than go on to graduate school at a top institution in the U.S.? As I spoke, the woman on the panel kept nodding in agreement. She was, I thought, on my side, and I drew strength from what I perceived as her empathy. One committee member seemed to be in deep thought. The chairman was stone-faced.  He proposed postponing the decision until a later date. I said I couldn’t wait.
“Why are you pressuring us?” he growled, raising his voice. 
I remember those words to this day. They still ring in my head.
“I am not pressuring you. I am under pressure to meet a deadline,” I said.
 I saw sympathetic looks on the faces of the rest of the interviewers. The chairman asked me to wait outside.
I felt serene as I sat outside. I had done the best I could and was reconciled to whatever might happen. But deep inside, I had the feeling I had made it.
Finally, the chairman called me back in. His demeanor had changed; he was smiling and actually looked humane. The committee had been impressed with my credentials and the way I had defended my application, he said. With a grin, he told me my application had been approved.
 I had made it! I was ecstatic. Of course other hurdles lay ahead. But I didn’t care. All had to do with money. I wanted to go out and announce my success to the skeptics, to those who had urged “realism,” to those who had counseled against aiming high and to those who had exhorted me not to risk disappointment. 
There was one detail to work out, the chairman said. The Treasury would authorize me to purchase $4,400, instead of the $4,800 that Harvard required. But in order to formally satisfy Harvard’s requirement, the chairman would notify Bank Leumi that the Treasury had authorized $4,800, on condition I sign an agreement not to purchase more than $4,400 from the bank. 
“Would you sign off on that?” the chairman asked. 
 This was the least of my worries.   At that point I couldn’t put my hands on $50, much less $4,400. It made no difference whether I were authorized to purchase  $4400 or $4800. I couldn’t acquire either amount.
I readily agreed to the chairman’s terms.
Then I walked outside, sat on the steps of the Treasury building, put my head in my hands and sobbed.


Bank Leumi was ready with its one-liner: “This is to certify that the Treasury has allotted to Mr. Daniel Khazzoom the sum of $4,800.” The director of the bank’s foreign-exchange department, Yits’hak Avital, looked happy when he handed me the letter.
“I hope to be able to call you Professor Khazzoom next time I see you,” he said.
I express mailed the bank’s authorization to Harvard. There was nothing else to do but wait. Would it work?
In short order, Harvard sent me its letter of admission.
I wrote to Mr. Shasha in New York to share the news with him and thank him for his magnanimity. Even though I didn’t make use of his affidavit, his willingness to vouch for me had been a source of hope and strength.
        I expected to be in Cambridge, Massachusetts in mid-September 1958 for the start of the school year. I had 100 liras in my bank account, but needed 950 liras ($320) to pay for my airfare. 
When my friend, Albert, learned I had been admitted to Harvard, he gave me all of his savings: 200 liras. Other friends and members of my family chipped in. The Consumers’ Co-operative Society came through too, but I was still 150 liras short. There was one other possible benefactor: the Fund for the Education of Immigrants from Iraq, which had been established by Babylonian educators and leaders at the start of the exodus from Iraq to Israel. 
Several times before, I had been tempted to ask the trustees of the fund for help, but I didn’t have the audacity to approach them, having let them down in the past.
During my college years, several leaders of the Babylonian Jewish community ran for election to the k’neset. I remember particularly one of them  -- Silman Sheena, a close friend of my family. He was a top lawyer and a two-term representative of the Jewish community in the Iraqi parliament. Mr. Sheena and the other Babylonian candidates worked hard to convince us that raising the issue of discrimination in the k’neset would contribute to a change for the better.  But we, in our young and perhaps less than honest ways, did not want to vote for them and instead used every tactic to defeat them. We attended their rallies and deliberately asked provocative questions to throw the speakers out of kilter and we made harsh comments to create a scene and disrupt the rally.
And that was the worst part of it – not only did we not fight the adverse environment we found ourselves in, but we did not give our elders a chance to fight it either. We said we did not want people elected to the parliament wearing a tag representing the Babylonian Jews. We argued that that would be divisive and that we opposed divisiveness, even though the division was glaring and was there for every one to see. We strenuously proclaimed we wanted one Jewish people, not Jews with ethnic tags.
But perhaps the real reason why the people of my generation had opposed our elders was that it was too painful for us to admit to ourselves that we were already tagged, regardless.  We were the people that were tagged “Second Israel”; we were the ones that the press called “Laggard Israel”. Maybe it was too painful for us to stand up and be counted among the laggards. Better to act as if they did not exist.
We prevailed. None of the Babylonian candidates was elected.
 Later, I came to regret what we had done. Those leaders were honest. They had the courage of their convictions. They saw discrimination and tried to wrestle with it.
  Several board members at the Fund for the Education of Immigrants from Iraq were part of the same Babylonian leadership I had opposed during my years of denial. How could I now turn to them for help? That fund was the embodiment, the quintessence of the traditions of Babylonian Jewry. It reflected the worldview of the Jews of Iraq, their values and societal priorities. Having been so hostile to the preservation of those traditions, how could I justify benefiting from those same traditions, just because they now happened to serve my needs? I finally concluded that honesty and logic required me to stay away from the fund.
As I wracked my brain trying to think of sources of financial aid, it occurred to me to write to Bekhor Shitrit, the minister of police and the lone Sephardi member of the Israeli cabinet. He was the scion of an illustrious family that had lived in Israel for generations.  
I had written letters to other cabinet members asking for help, but my letters were ignored. Mr. Shitrit responded promptly, assuring me that he would be back in touch, as soon as he had time to think of a way to help me. 
Then my life took an unexpected twist.
 Paying for the tuition and living expenses for my first two years in graduate school was, I knew, something I would have to face eventually, but I planned to tackle this problem once I had the money for airfare. But when I learned of a chance to get tuition assistance, finding the 150 liras suddenly became a pressing priority.
Harvard notified me that I was eligible for a Ford Foundation grant to attend The Economics Institute, an experimental program established that year. The Institute was intended to provide remedial instruction in English and economic theory to first-year foreign grad students. Classes, beginning the second week in July 1958, were to be held on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The program included extracurricular activities to familiarize the foreign students with life in the U.S. -- trips to the countryside, tours of factories and farms, meetings with scholars and dignitaries, and weekends with American families.
I was excited about the chance to improve my English and become oriented to my new American environment.  There was also an advantage to being in the U.S. some two and a half months before beginning the semester at Harvard. While attending the Institute, I could contact American banks about getting a school loan. 
Even as I worried about my 150-lira shortfall, I rolled up my sleeves, sat in front of my Underwood typewriter, and filled out the Ford Foundation application for the Institute.
I had no idea what my chances of getting the grant were. But that didn’t prevent me from daydreaming about what I’d do with the money if it came through. I’d pay the $400 tuition fee for the Institute, but would scrimp on meals and save on my other living expenses. Maybe I could get on just one meal a day. Maybe I could also share a room with other students to save on rent. If so, I’d need to borrow less, and maybe that would enhance my chances of getting an education loan from a bank. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
The response was not long in coming. The Ford Foundation approved a  $1,000 grant for tuition and room and board, a $250 allowance for a round-trip flight from New York to Madison and a generous sum for a four-night stay in a hotel in New York.
“This is a miracle,” I said when I read the Foundation’s letter. 
I considered hitchhiking instead of flying from New York to Madison and back. I could then save the airfare allowance. I was adept at hitchhiking. I did a lot of that when I was in the military. Maybe I could do it in the U.S. too. Why not? I might be able to save enough to pay for my first-term tuition at Harvard. That would lift a big burden off my back. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
But my immediate problem was coming up with the 150-lira airfare to the U.S. I couldn’t use the grant money to pay for my airfare.  I had to first get to New York to get the grant. Otherwise, I’d lose my chance of attending the Institute, lose the Ford Foundation award and, with it, the dream of saving enough to help with my Harvard fees. So much hinged on closing that 150-lira shortfall. 
Then, unexpectedly, I received a letter from the Fund for the Education of Immigrants from Iraq. Minister Shitrit had asked them to help me cover my 150-lira shortfall. The letter pledged the fund’s assistance. That would do it, I said to myself. But I was still plagued by guilt about accepting their help. How could I face them?
Two weeks later, another letter arrived. The fund had a check for me to pick up. They had sponsored a benefit dance party and had set aside my 150 liras out of the proceeds.
When I went to pick up the check, a middle-aged man at the fund smiled and said, “We’re so proud of you, Danny,” as he handed me the check.
I wanted to tell him how much their forgiveness meant to me, but I could only murmur my thanks while fighting back tears.  When the chips were down, this community that I had dismissed for most of my time in Israel had come through with magnanimity.
I gazed at the check, and was pleasantly surprised to notice that Minister Bekhor Shitrit had countersigned it. 
I thought back on my efforts to get to graduate school, on the struggle to put the pieces together, one at a time – piece, by piece, by piece. That check was another of those pieces, arguably the most important. But it had more than monetary value. It was part of my history. It epitomized the generosity of the Babylonian community and its willingness to come to my rescue, in spite of what I had done.  It signified my effort to continue my education, even without the wherewithal, and it symbolized what I was and what I had been through. It carried a message that I wanted preserved as inspiration for immigrants, the poor and the downtrodden: “Don’t give up on education for want of money, and don’t get discouraged before you have tried. Take a risk. It is true that even if you try, you might not make it. But if you don’t try, you surely will never shine.”
I had to cash the check to pay my airfare.  But before I did I paid to have it photographed.  It was expensive, but I was not going to scrimp. That check had too much value. Without it, the whole endeavor might have failed.
 To this day, the framed photograph of that check hangs proudly in my study.         
I lost contact with the fund, but I never forgot its mission. For years I donated to organizations in Israel dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the Babylonian community and educating its children.
When my friend and fellow economist, Vivi Darweesh-Lecker, of Bar Ilan University passed away in 2002, her husband Eddy told me about a fund that had established a fellowship in her memory to support doctoral and post-doctoral work by members of the Babylonian community. I was electrified. It was none other than the fund that had given me the 150 liras.
          I sent the fund a check in Vivi’s memory, and renewed my links with it.

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