Photographer: Najib Joe Hakim

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Exhibit Title: Born Among Mirrors: Fifty Years After

Location: Lebanon

Caption: These five B&W photographs were shot by my father on November 6, 1956, the day we embarked on our journey to the United States aboard the Cleopatra. They show our relatives from both sides of the family seeing my parents, my infant brother and me off at Beirut Harbor. The uncut film was rolled in a film tin and lost for almost 50 years when my mother re-discovered them and asked me to take a look to see if anything interesting was on it.

Ever since he left Palestine, my father wanted to go to America. He was a very ambitious person, and in his younger days not afraid of making big gambles. The departure date was approaching quickly and we had yet to receive our visas from the American Embassy in Beirut. In fact, we missed the original ship we had planned to sail on because of the bureaucratic delay. According to family lore, that first ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean. My father used to joke that the moral of the story was “bureaucracies aren’t all bad”. Finally in November the Cleopatra took us safely to a new world.

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