In our early years in Hamburg, we only had each other — the nuclear family — my parents and siblings, and the Nassimi family. They were my whole world! Our two families were the ﬁrst Iranian Jewish families to immigrate to Hamburg. The community later grew around us, but in the beginning we were quite secluded in the city. That is why, to this day, my sisters and my mother have always been my best friends, and I am so attached to the family.
As more and more Iranian Jewish families came to Hamburg, we once again had a sense of community, just like a very big family (very, very big: about 250 people), or an Iranian mahale, and it felt much better. Since we and the Nassimi family were the ﬁrst ones to come to Hamburg, my parents and the Nassimis were the parents and leaders of this community: Everyone came to us for questions and advice, and we became the center of Iranian Jewish community life in Hamburg. Our two families remained in a very close and warm relationship from the time we lived together. My father and his friend Aghajan Nassimi were loved by all Iranians living in Hamburg, and in any case of disagreement between people, they would turn to my father, who was a man of foresight and peace. He and Agha Nassimi served as the community mediators. They would solve the problem together and make peace between the parties.
There were also many social get-togethers of the community. They took place either at my parents’ home or at the Nassimis’, who had also moved to a large apartment. My grandmother Saltanat Khanom and my mother Margrit, together, made sure we get to know all Iranian Jews living in Hamburg. On the Jewish holidays, like Passover, my mother would throw parties and gatherings with an abundance of savory food. We would meet and visit each other a lot, which made us a very close, tight knit community, that felt like one big family. We used to celebrate holidays together, have parties together, celebrate weddings and other events together, mourn our dead together, and raise our children together.
Even today, when I go to Los Angeles, London, New York or wherever else our Hamburg friends spread, people come up to me and say: “You are Khakshouri’s daughter? I will never forget your mother’s kindness and the holidays and Shabbat dinners at your place!”
Our family environment was very warm and loving. My mother was truly a woman of good thoughts and deeds. Her mother, too, always thought well, did good, and loved everyone equally. Saltanat Khanom was like the big mother of the community, which was especially important for the newly-arrived brides. Nora Chaouli Rakow recalls:
Saltanat Khanom, the loving mother of Margrit Khakshouri, was the mother to all newcomers. She took them under her wings. She taught the young brides the way of life. I have so much to thank her. Margrit, and Malake [Nassimi] Khanom where our role models. May God bless their souls.
My mother was in control of every corner and every person in the house like an experienced commander and strategist. The only person my father held in utmost respect and consideration, was my mother. His respect for her was truly commendable. He allowed her complete freedom to make any decision she wished and act upon it.
My mother managed the household ﬁnances with utmost wisdom and foresight. She always managed to save some of the money which my father lavishly put at her disposal, and used the saved portions to help the needy or host intimate get-togethers. My mother’s gatherings and parties made the Jewish community of Hamburg love our family very much. They would always invite us to their own friendly get-togethers, no matter what city in Iran they came from: Mashhadis, Tehranis, Shirazis, Esfahanis, Kermanis and Kashanis alike.
As we grew up, some of the bachelors married young Iranian girls and brought them to the community. It seemed logical at the time, but now it seems funny: There we were, one big community living in Europe, but still people preferred to marry Jewish people from their own hometowns in Iran. Most (but not all) Iranians in Hamburg were from Mashhad: The four Nassimi sons, as well as the Yaghoubis and Roubenis, went to Iran to meet their Jewish Mashhadi brides to be. Abdi Roubeni went to Israel to ﬁnd himself a nice Mashhadi bride. A few years later, I would also become part of the same trend.
To this day we are still in touch with many of these families, and although we now live in different places in the world, we still meet and feel like a family. We take part in their weddings and Bar Mitzvas, and they come to ours.