Our ﬁrst child, Isaac, was born in Hamburg in February 1968. His birth brought joy and happiness to the whole family. A kindhearted and intelligent boy, he is extremely knowledgeable, and keeps broadening his horizons by reading more and more books. Although he is hardly familiar with Iranian culture, he’s the only one of his generation (including cousins!) who picked up some Persian and can hold a conversation. In German and English he is completely ﬂuent and eloquent. He is very fond of skiing, a great swimmer, and loves children.
Moving from Germany to Switzerland took the biggest toll on him. The Swiss couldn’t ﬁgure out the well-off, Middle Eastern immigrant with perfect German (better than the Swiss), and he felt that he didn’t ﬁt in. He rebelled against everyone and everything, and caused us a lot of heartache and grief. Now that he’s grown out of his rebelliousness, he does his best to make up for lost time. He lives in Zürich, close to his sister, but comes to visit us in Israel frequently, spends time with us, and tries to be there for us as much as he can.
It seems that Isaac has inherited not only the looks of his grandfather Aziz, but also the ants in his pants: As an adult, he has lived in Germany, England, Russia, the US, Switzerland and Israel, and experimented with a wide range of hobbies, businesses and projects — mostly combining art and commerce: design, photography, gastronomy, advertising etc. He has dated many non-Jewish girls, but as a kindhearted son, did not want to break our hearts by marrying one of them and bringing non-Jewish grandchildren into our family. Unfortunately, due to this internal paradox, he remains unmarried.
Isaac writes about Sasson:
There are so many memories and stories from our times in Hamburg, Zürich, New York, Moscow, Tashkent, Tbilisi, Tel Aviv, Herzliya and all the other places our lives have taken us to — it seemed almost impossible to pick just one. Of all the ups and downs we’ve been through as a family, all the drama and adventures we’ve experienced, the two anecdotes that came to my mind might, at ﬁrst glance, seem pretty banal. Nonetheless, I believe both exemplify the traits that I love most about my dad: his exceptionally big heart, his endless empathy and compassion, and his reverence for life, as well as his idealism and passion.
Sasson was never a professed animal lover. Nonetheless, when a little bird crashed into the windows of my parents’ apartment in Herzliya, my dad spared no effort to save it. It was a holiday in Israel, and the only vet he could track down was way way up north, if my memory serves me right, in Nahariya, an almost 2-hour drive from Herzliya. Gently gently, my dad picked up the little bird which laid motionless on the balcony ﬂoor. He wrapped it in one of his best silk pochettes, bedded it in a small box, and drove it all the way to the vet. The vet, of course, instantly sensed a nice business opportunity. After all, someone who would drive so far to save a little bird would surely also be willing to pay a nice price! None of this mattered, the important thing was that thanks to my dad this little bird lived, and I don’t believe it is a coincidence that his Persian biography is illustrated with several bird images!
The other story occurred in Moscow in the early 1990’s. It was during the Davis Cup Matches between Russia and Sweden. Despite the fact that there were more than 10,000 Russian fans in the Stadium and only several hundred Swedes, only the Swedish chants and fan support could be heard.
This was a time of great difficulty in Russia. Everything was scarce, not to mention office supplies. Who would have thought that the copy paper my mom had carried from Zürich to Moscow, would be used to save the Russian Davis Cup team?
My dad wrote out his instructions for the Russian fans on it, telling them how and when to cheer for their team. He made thousands of copies, and handed these ﬂyers out himself throughout the entire stadium. Sure enough, after just a few minutes, the chants of the Swedish fans were drowned by the rhythmic clapping and chanting of the Russians! I don’t really recall who won in the end, but I do know for sure that the Russian team owed quite a few of their points to the support shown by their fans, and therefore to the support of my dad!
This little story is just one of many examples of my father’s passion and dedication.
I was never a person to have speciﬁc role models, childhood heroes or idols. It was more about admiring certain traits in a person: Idealism, integrity, creativity, passion and vision. Though as a child and throughout my teens and early twenties I was a true rebel, today I realize that there are very few people who embody these traits like my father does.
Isaac writes about Golli:
When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, we got an impossible homework assignment. Our teacher gave us a list of about 50 words, completely unrelated, from different semantic ﬁelds, and we had to write a story or an essay that would include them all. Already on the school bus on the way home, all the kids were complaining about how hard this assignment is.
If memory serves me right, I was just not going to do it.
As a ﬁrstborn son in an Iranian family and the eldest grandson of the living-legend Youssef Khakshouri, everybody — especially all the women who raised me — my mom as well as grandma, great grandma, aunts, nannies etc. — treated me like a prince, and seemed to think I was some kind of genius. I did score high on intelligence tests, but all these expectations always made me fearful I would disappoint them. And even if I were to live up to all those expectations — it was only what was expected of me anyways. So when I couldn’t ﬁnd a way to effortlessly excel at something, I would just refuse to do it.
So on that day, when my mom asked if we have homework, I said something like “There was something, but it’s very hard and not mandatory. I don’t think I need to do it.”
She said, “Let’s just take a look,” and pretty much immediately came up with the most brilliant idea: “Why don’t you write a story about a circus? All these animals, tools and kinds of people can be used in the circus performance!”
It was a genius idea! I remember how I almost had to laugh out loud at how easily she came up with it. Creativity was never a problem, so once the idea was out, we just sat together, and wrote the essay: fast, easy and fun! We just kept coming up with sentences that included more and more of these words. 20 minutes tops and we were done! We had the paper with the assignment explained and with all the words.
The next day at school was when it really dawned on me how outstanding the idea was. The teacher asked who wants to read their story, and no one raised their hand. Then he started calling on individual kids to read… I felt so bad and even embarrassed for them! I was the only one with the completed task, and it wasn’t just done, it was excellent!
I was so proud of my mom! I admired her wit and intelligence, and I still do. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if she were born into a more egalitarian society. My mom has always been the most important person to me, the only one who always had my back and supported me.
As for me, the fear of everybody (including myself) realizing I was not as special as they believed, was way bigger than the fear of not being able to accomplish what I would have liked to accomplish. So for a while, not even trying seemed like the best solution. Eventually, I discovered another option: I became the best at being bad: I was naughty in Hamburg, too, but my real issues with anger and rebelliousness surfaced after our move to Zürich. Despite all that, not only did I survive hardships like cancer and self-destructive behavior, but had a rich and amazing life, all thanks to my mom. Without her undying support it would never have been possible. There is nothing I regret more about my life then all the pain I caused her. I love you, Mom!