Sylvie Jami Salei

Interviewed by Fran Hildebrandt

April 12, 2018

Max M. Fisher Federation Building, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Sylvie Jami Salei
Audio 00:58:08


This interview describes life in Tunisia for Jews following the founding of Israel. Salei speaks about Anti-Semitism she and her family faced and their decision to leave Tunisia. She talks about moving to Paris with no money or possessions and having to build a life. While vacationing in Israel, she met her ex-husband. Due to his career, they moved to the United States, eventually settling in Michigan with their family. The interview includes remarks on Sephardic traditions and practices, Anti-Semitism, and Salei’s reception by the local Jewish community in Michigan.




History of Narrator

Sylvie Jami Salei was born in La Goulette, Tunisia on April 6, 1947. Anti-Semitism rose in Tunisia in the wake of Israel’s founding and religious persecution eventually led Salei’s family to leave in 1965. They were allowed to leave their country with just $10. Her family settled in Paris, France. At 17 years old, Salei found a job to support her family of five in a two-bedroom apartment without a bathroom.  While vacationing in Israel, Salei met her ex-husband, an engineer who wanted to come to the United States for career opportunities. They would eventually settle in Michigan, where Salei still lives today.


Credit as: © Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives. Sylvie Salei Oral History Interview, April 12, 2018