A Remarkable Life; a Remarkable Book:
Nouri: The Story of Isidore Dayan, and the Growth of a Vibrant Community in America
Nouri has been hailed as “a biography that reads like a novel.” Author Devora Gliksman tells us a little about this remarkable man and the book that brings him to vivid life:
Nouri spans almost a century, includes two World Wars, and features a panoramic background ranging from Baghdad and Damascus to Brooklyn, from Czechoslovakia to Baltimore to tiny Vineland, N.J.
Nouri’s mother was murdered while his father was off fighting in the Turkish army. A bitter custody battle ended with the toddler on a ship to America, totally cut off from his father and siblings. Raised by his grandparents, who passed away by the time he was fourteen, Nouri turned to his uncles, who were always there for him. Though surrounded by family, Nouri still felt very much alone. Yet Nouri emerged from each challenge stronger, more grateful to G-d and to those who helped him. His gratitude and striving for spiritual greatness became the hallmarks of Nouri’s life.
Nouri’s never considered himself “self-made,” even though his rags-to-riches story could easily have fed his ego. As his business boomed, he never attributed any of its success to himself. In his gratefulness to G-d, he was never satisfied with where he was spiritually. In this, he was trained by his mentor, Hacham Murad, a giant of a man in a tiny body.
So Nouri forged ahead, always seeking to grow and to help his community grow as well. One project at a time, he helped change his community by building a new synagogue, building a girls school, building another synagogue, building senior housing projects. That was his whole life: building. His faith that Hashem would help him and his community was constant.
In 1970, Nouri’s son-in-law and daughter, Hacham Yosef and Carol Harari-Raful, as well as Carol’s sister and three of Nouri’s grandchildren, were on a TWA flight that was hijacked by Palestinians and forced to land in the Jordanian desert. Also among the hostages were Rav Yitzchok and Rebbetzin Hutner, and Rav Yonoson and Rebbetzin David. Nouri features incredible eyewitness accounts of the hijacking, including journals written by Hacham Raful and his brother while they were in captivity. Amazingly, even at this traumatic time Nouri’s faith in Hashem’s goodness was unwavering.
Nouri is the true story of a man — indomitable, optimistic, devoted to his people. It does, indeed, read like a novel — but it’s true, and very, very inspiring.