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The Story of The Original Farah

The Story of The Original Farah

The original Farah, far right, Shanghai circa 1917. Pictured with her five siblings, each born along the trade route from Bombay to Shanghai.

The original Farah, far right, Shanghai circa 1917. Pictured with her five siblings, each born along the trade route from Bombay to Shanghai.

My grandmother Farah was born in 1910 in Hong Kong to the Nissim family, Iraqi/Indian Jewish traders whose lineage has its roots in the Sephardic Jewish diaspora from Portugal and the Iberian peninsula in the late 1400s.

 The Nissims traveled to China on a trade route with extended stays in Bombay and Burma. After Farah's birth the family moved from Hong Kong to Shanghai, living in the city's bustling Jewish neighborhood. 

The Nissim Parents, Traveling Traders 

The Nissim family made their final immigration from Shanghai to San Francisco in 1920s, traveling under the Golden Gate Bridge making their grand entrance to America; Farah was 18.

As you can see in the document below her name is stated as “Flory”; upon immigrating her name as well as her five siblings names were changed due to the pressures of assimilation. 

Immigration Document

Farah became an elementary school teacher teaching  immigrants both in San Francisco's China Town and on the US-Mexico border in a box car. 

Farah met her future husband Earl while playing tennis in SF's Golden Gate Park. Earl was given up by his parents to an orphanage as an adolescent at the onset of the Great Depression.

He worked delivering mail at the Shell building in San Francisco but dreamed of going to college and becoming a doctor. Farah and Earl got married and she put him through medical school on her teacher's salary. He became a doctor.

Farah Nissim, San Francisco, mid 1930s.

Farah’s dinner table was surrounded with food, drink and stories from the Middle East, Asia, the U.S., and all of the other places her family had traveled through. This blending of cultures, stories, and connection that can be found both while traveling and around the dinner table is at the heart of Farah Trading Co. 

The Nissim siblings cooking a meal in San Francisco, 1930s

My middle name Farah was given to me by my parents to keep the original Farah's spirit alive. 

The original Farah, far right, enjoying some vinho! Little Rachel Farah bottom middle circa 1990. 


I would like to end this story of the original Farah with the meaning of the original Farah's name in Hebrew - Farah is joy and Nissim is miracle.  Thank you again for your support! - Rachel Farah  


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