Sol Betesh Interview – 2010

Sol Betesh speaks about growing up in the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn in the documentary The Syrian Jewish Community: Our Journey Through History, Episode 3: Life in Bensonhurst.

Selected excerpts

“I was born on 65th Street and Bay Parkway.  And we were 10 in our family.  We lived on the second level.  The first level was Seraph Safdiah, she had 10 or 12 children.  So between the two of us there were 20 some odd children.  And at night, my mother would go out in the foyer, and there would be a roll call and Seraph Safdiah would be downstairs, and they would be checking with each other ‘Whose sleeping where? Just make sure everybody’s in the house before we close the doors.'”

Sol’s mother, Sarah Betesh

My father used to make arak in the basement. We had this great big copper pot, and he would get the grapes somehow and we would squeeze the grapes into his thing.  And I would be down there for hours on end helping him. He was the bootleg of the neighborhood selling arak. He made wonderful stuff.

Sol’s father, Eli Betesh and family.