23 November 1942. Most people of Tabriz are still fast asleep. The sounds of early morning roosters ﬁll the air. Inside the house, a woman is twisting on a bed with the pangs of labor. Her husband hopes the baby is a boy. He already has two healthy daughters, and his third child will soon open eyes — hopefully his eyes — to the world. He raises his hands to heaven and prays that the Lord grant his wife good health.
At that time, when a boy was born, it brought joy and happiness, and friends and relatives would congratulate the parents. But when a girl came into the world, they would express their condolences! Nanne Khanom had lost three daughters, who were stillborn, before giving birth to her eldest daughter Sonya. When Sonya’s sister Hawi was born, many relatives came to console Nanne Khanom. During her next pregnancy, having given birth to three stillborn and two healthy, very much alive daughters, Nanne was so worried, she considered having an abortion. It was only thanks to some family members, especially Marusa Khanom, daughter of Agha Yaghoob Khakshouri, that she changed her mind and decided to keep the baby. The men at this time, too, wished to have male offspring, who they believed would assist and support them.
It’s a boy! He lights up the lives of his parents — Agha Aziz and Nanne Khanom — and brightens their home. His father is so happy, he does not know right from left. He asks the midwife to enter the room where his wife has just given birth. She doesn’t know yet that her baby is a boy. Barely conscious, she feels a kiss on her forehead. Her husband is the ﬁrst person to bring her the good news about their ﬁrst son. The woman’s face is lit with happiness beyond description. The ﬁrst thing that comes to her mind is choosing an appropriate name for the newborn baby, one that will reﬂect their bliss and happiness. Nanne says, “let us name him Sasson, which means ‘happiness’ in Hebrew.” Her husband agrees immediately. And so, on this auspicious day, Sasson ﬁrst sets his little foot in the material world, bringing his family happiness beyond words by his very being.
The Jewish community of Tabriz was small, and my parents celebrated my Brit (circumcision) on the eighth day with relatives and many guests. I can imagine Agha Aziz, intoxicated with happiness, dancing in front of the guests to the merry sound of drums and musical instruments played by the band; his brother Mikhael also coming on stage to join him; and Nanne Khanom holding me, her newborn child, and like all mothers, worried about the forthcoming ceremony, one of the most important ceremonies in Judaism.