Levi Tatchi - Featured image

Levi Tatchi

Levi Tatchi was born in Baghdad, Iraq, one of nine children. His father ran a successful café in the city, fitting given that Tatchi means “tea” in Arabic. Arabs and Jews got along well until the revolution in 1941, Suddenly friendly Arab neighbors turned violent, and Jews were murdered on the streets. Levi’s father was killed leaving his mother to care for the family.

At the age of fourteen, Levi was was arrested together with a group of friends. They were murdered immediately; he was taken away to a detention center where he was tortured for days. The severe beatings left scars on his legs and the damage causes him pain to this day. His family paid off one of the guards and Levi was secreted from the jail and driven for six terrifying hours to be reunited with them where they remained in hiding for a time.

The Tatchis knew that their only hope for survival was to reach Iran where the Shah was sympathetic to Jews. At the border, Iraqi troops captured the family who were then placed in a holding cell prior to being returned to what was certain to be their death. One of the the attending guard’s fathers came to drink tea with him each morning. On spotting Levi and his family, he questioned his son as to the reason the family was being held. When their predicament was explained, the father demanded that the son immediately arrange for a car to take them to Iran, and for reasons known only to God, they were driven to safety.

When the Iraqi police came to pick up the prisoners, the guard playing dumb, said he had no idea what they were talking about. Finally, it was “explained” that they had escaped and were headed for the Iranian border. The police managed to catch up with them at the Iraqi/Iranian border, however, the Iranian border guards stood their ground, threatened to shoot the Iraqis if they didn’t leave, and the Tatchis safely crossed into Iran where they spent the next year of their life.

Finally in 1950 the family was able to immigrate to Israel, to a refugee camp down the block from where DVI  is currently located!  This was the the first time since his childhood that Levi could walk outside without being afraid. No more tents and metal barracks roasting in summer, freezing in winter with the smells, the unsanitary conditions and the lack of a decent meal.

Levi went on to marry and smiles from ear to ear when talking about his 13 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. Sadly, his wife died in surgery 15 years ago, his siblings have died, and he is left alone with his memories.

Levi lives on his meager social welfare benefits and was referred to DVI by his social worker. Twelve years ago, Levi was fitted with dentures. He has had them fixed repeatedly, but everything has its day.   Through the Free Dentures Project for Needy Elderly and Holocaust Survivors they are being replaced and once again, he can enjoy his favorite foods, and most importantly he can smile. Given his history and sacrifice, this is the greatest gift of all.