Joseph (Yusuf) Samuels was born in Taht El Takia, the Jewish quarter of the old city of Baghdad, Iraq in 1930 to a family who could trace their ancestry to the Babylonian destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E.. One of eight children in a household of six brothers and one sister, Joseph grew up in a family of textile traders whose business spanned India, England and Italy. He attended Rachel Shahmoon primary school, and later graduated from Al A’adadia High School.
On June 1st and 2nd, 1941–at the age of 11–Joseph witnessed the Farhud. He vividly recalls Iraqi Muslim mobs looting, ransacking and burning Jewish homes and businesses in the Jewish quarter of Baghdad. Hundreds of Jews were murdered, and numerous homes were robbed. Inspite of this blatant anti-semitic attack, Joseph and his family survived the Farhud and remained in Baghdad.
After graduating high school in 1948, Joseph’s dream of continuing his studies in America were shattered. The failed Arab war against Israel led Iraq to turn its war against its own Jewish population, and instead of going to America, Joseph had to flee for his life. He traveled from Baghdad to Basra by train, and was smuggled out to Iran and then to Israel.
A homeless, penniless refugee, he arrived in Israel in 1950. During that time, Joseph (Yusuf) spent time on a kibbutz and took different jobs until he joined the Israeli Navy. After serving in the Navy for 3 years, he left for Montreal, Canada in pursuit of a higher education.
Immigrating to Canada was no easy task. Once again he was an immigrant, and had no profession or higher education. Tenacious and hardworking, Joseph (Yusuf) went into real estate, and became successful. He got married in 1959 to Rebecca (Ruby), and together they had three children: Sharon, Lisa and Jeffrey.
Joe and his family moved to Santa Monica, California in 1978. The hardships and the many difficult experiences he faced in Iraq made Joe appreciative and grateful to God for the freedom he enjoys and the good life he shares with others. He likes warm weather and being in the company of upbeat people. His hobbies still include traveling and gardening.