3rd Grade Freedom Interview by Elliot M.:

I interviewed my friend who is also my mom’s co-worker, Phuong Baum, about her path to freedom. She left her home city, Saigon, Vietnam, in the 1960’s at eleven months old. Saigon is now called Ho Chi Minh City. Her parents decided that she wouldn’t have a good future in Vietnam so she left on a plane to the U.S. during the Vietnam war. This was dangerous. One way she experienced loss of freedom was that she couldn’t grow up with her mom’s side of her family. They were left behind in Vietnam. Her father became a US citizen and that’s when she flew to Hawaii, stayed there for a month and then traveled to Wisconsin where she stayed. Later, she moved to New York, then Los Angeles.

They were free but Phuong had to leave her culture behind. Sad, right?  But she was safe and she was happy to have a safe home. In the U.S., she had freedom of speech, an education, a job, and she has friends. One of her biggest achievements in the U.S. was that she graduated college. Phuong escaped from Vietnam just like our people escaped to the Promised Land.

I am so glad she’s here so she can follow her dreams.




3rd Grade Freedom Interview by Joseph B.:

I interviewed my tutor, Samira Massachi, about her path to freedom. She came from Tehran, Iran in the 1980’s to avoid the war. Samira left Iran because there was a revolution and it was very dangerous for the Jews to be in Iran in the 1980’s. She experienced loss of freedom because Iran was a Muslim country, so Jews were not welcome there. She decided to leave because her family wanted to go to America to find a better life. Samira and her family escaped by telling the government they were taking a trip to Italy and then they went to America. The things she had to leave behind were: clothes, jewelry, money and her dad.

When she and her family got to America, she felt happy that she could practice her religion. Since arriving in America, she has become a pharmacist and is a professor at USC. She had the opportunity to go after any job, just like a man. In America, men and women are equals and Samira can openly be Jewish without fearing for her life. I am happy Samira came to America to get a better life. Just like Moses, Samira left Iran to get more freedom.

Now she has a good future, like me!


3rd Grade Freedom Interview by Jordan M.:

I interviewed my mother, Elena Divorstin Meller, about her path to freedom. She came from Russia. She wanted to leave Russia because there was a mean president who only let people get one loaf of bread and a carton of milk each week. Elena applied to get permission to leave. She was very scared because she went to a new country where she didn’t know how to speak the language. My mom had to leave her grandparents behind in Russia. When she got to the country of America, she was finally able to get a job.

She said her biggest accomplishment was that, “I gave my children opportunities that I couldn’t give them in Russia.” My mom was just like Moses because she left her country because she wanted freedom.

I’m glad she left Russia so I can have a good life!




3rd Grade Freedom Interview by Talia H.:

I interviewed my mother, Nooshin Miriam Taban Hiekali about her path to freedom. My mom came from Iran in 1986. She was eleven years old. She left because it was not safe in Iran. My mom came to America so she could study the Torah and go to a University and live a lovely free life. My grandma and uncle went to the US first to make sure it was a safe place to live. Nooshin came with her two sisters, Nazzi and Mogdeh, one and a half years later. They were still very young and left in a pick-up truck in the middle of the desert. It was SUPER dangerous! They left their house back in Iran. My mom and my two aunts got fake passports and all changed their birthdays to January 1st. They still haven’t changed them. All three of them had little backpacks with a flashlight, a favorite toy, some food and a little money. They all had to escape illegally with many other people. When they finally got to Israel, they took a flight to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, it took a few days to settle in. Later, their dad came with other family and most of their things. They started school and got a nice house.

After some time had passed, my mom went to UCLA and became a psychologist. She married my dad and had three children: Eli, Lily and Talia. We got a cute dog named, Sunny! My brother had his Bar Mitzvah and soon my sister, Lily, will have her Bat Mitzvah.  Now, we are free and we are able to live a nice, happy life in America and get a lot of things accomplished. I am so happy I can be free and Jewish in America!

Just like Moses escaped Egypt to be free, my mom escaped from Iran to be free!


3rd Grade Freedom Interview by Raquel M.:

Interviewed my mother, Dafne Lavi Moradi, about her path to freedom. She left her home country of Iran to come to America. My mother left Iran when she was only five years old in 1978. My mother left Iran because there was a revolution and it was unsafe and dangerous for the Jews. They were taking people’s lives, people’s properties, and their freedom of religions expression. My mother remembers a long plane flight and they gave her toys to play with. Her parents left everything behind in hopes of returning three months later. She was only five so she had to learn English. Overall the transition was easier for her than her family members because she was the youngest. My mother didn’t have freedom of speech or equality back in Iran.

She says her greatest accomplishment is her three lovely children. Without the freedoms and opportunities provided to her in America, Dafne would not have evolved into an empowered and conscious woman with a mind to raise her children as she wanted to. My mother reminds me of Moses because she accomplished a lot of her goals, like Moses led the Jews to freedom, she led her children to be smart and successful.

I’m glad my mom escaped from Iran because I can have a free and good future!


3rd Grade Freedom Interview by Roan T.:

I interviewed my father, Leandro Tyberg, about his path to freedom. He left his hometown of Tucuman, Argentina when he was a little boy. He decided to leave his home country because there was a civil war. It was very dangerous and they didn’t want to get hurt. Also, the government took over his house, which was another reason why they wanted to leave. It was sad going to America because Leandro left his home, money, cousins, grandparents, and family behind. When he escaped to the US, he felt excited, scared and sad. He was safe from the government in Argentina. He was also safe to be an entrepreneur. He created a family and knew that he was free. That was his biggest accomplishment.

He wanted to make everyone happy. Now, everyone’s happy in America. We have a good life. We are free to be Jewish.

Thanks, Leandro!




3rd Grade Freedom Interview by Portia U.:

I interviewed my father, Mauricio Umansky, about his path to freedom. He left from Mexico City to come to America when he was seven years old. Mauricio Umansky had no choice because his parents brought him to America. He didn’t lose any freedom in Mexico, but he had more choices in America.

My father, Mauricio, left Mexico City because of the pollution. Mauricio’s parents bought him an airplane ticket. He said his journey was fun but the plane was a little rough. My father had to leave behind his grandparents. It was hard because he missed them. He felt happy and proud to be growing up in America. When he got here, my father went to this very school: Stephen S. Wise Elementary School! He was given a better education than he could get in Mexico.

Mauricio’s biggest accomplishment has been building an amazing real estate company that is the best now! I am happy to live in California: the land of opportunity.




3rd Grade Freedom Interview by Jonah S.:

I interviewed my dad, Isaac Sakhai, about his path to freedom. He came here from Teheran, Iran in 1968. He left because of the revolution and he couldn’t practice his religion of Judaism. He couldn’t express his feelings about the government. Isaac was separated from his family for more than 7 years! He couldn’t even communicate with his family and he really missed them. After he left Iran, in was impossible for him to go back and forth. In Iran, if he went walking on the street, he could be killed very easily. It was dangerous for any Jew to be there. Isaac was one of the last ones to leave Iran. Two months later, it was legal to leave! In Iran, the government was very mean. They would put people in jail if they talked back or were rude to them. My dad left a lot of things in Iran. He is an antiques dealer and is the fifth generation in the business. He had a lot of antiques and he had to leave most of his things behind. He lost a lot of money.

After he left, he went to Switzerland, then moved to Israel for two years and then moved to New York and he was free. In America, he practices his religion and can express his feelings freely. Now my dad is free, just like Moses when he left Egypt. Now my dad and his family can be free and Jewish. I am happy my family is free and I can go to a Jewish school.

Thank you, Dad, for bringing us to America!