By: Nadia Abuelezam
Having just released a three-part series on three generations of men from the same family, many have asked me, what about the women? What about the female Azzam family members?
Believe me, they have not been, nor can they be, forgotten or ignored.
Sara Azzam: I had the honor of meeting Sara when interviewing Moneer for the podcast at their lovely home in the Boston suburbs. I was initially in awe of Sara’s stunning blonde hair and blue eyes, but then immediately struck by her knowledge of the Azzam family’s history, of Palestinian history in general, and her ability to connect the struggles of the Palestinian people to the struggles of families with American roots, like her own (you really should listen to the end of Episode #15 if you haven’t yet!). I also had the pleasure of walking with Sara and Moneer during last year’s 1for3 Walk for Water in Cambridge, MA. She donned a kuffiyeh around her neck and a great deal of enthusiasm despite the pouring rain we found ourselves walking in. As Hani Nicholas (Sara’s son) mentions in the latest episode (#16), his mom, despite not being born with Palestinian heritage, has taken on that identity with a fervor and may be the most Palestinian one in the family. And you can see the admiration and respect all members of the Azzam family have for their mother and leader. Hani’s story frequently made reference to her guidance in his life. When telling his story live on stage at Palestinians, Live! in October of 2016, Hani mentioned the last time he smiled from ear to ear was when he was able to celebrate his mother’s birthday.
Alexandra Azzam: Alexandra, Sara and Moneer’s daughter and Hani’s younger sister, has been described to be as the “firecracker” of the bunch and a “formidable” member of the family. Hani Nicholas insisted when we sat down for the interview that it wasn’t him I should be talking to but rather his sister, who was much more eloquent on issues related to Palestine and identity. Hani describes his experience in his grandfather’s home with his sister by his side (see picture below), heightening the contrast between the current resident and the previous residents. While I have not had the pleasure of meeting Alexandra, I hope to meet her soon and interview her for the podcast!
Azzams in front of their family’s home on Mt. Carmel. Left to right: Alexandra, Dean (Moneer’s brother), Moneer, and Hani Nicholas.
So, what about the women? The women are present, active, and necessary to the stories told by Hani Tawfiq, Moneer, and Hani Nicholas. Despite their voices not being heard in the episodes themselves, they are an essential part of the Azzam family story. They make us proud to call them Palestinian women.