Virginia Sultan

Joseph Sultan as a rug merchant in Aleppo

Virginia Sultan was interviewed for the Sephardic Heritage Museum’s documentary film series in 2008. She is pictured above with her sisters – from left to right: Sadie, Virginia, Mollie, Betty.

“My name is Virginia Sultan. I was born on the East Side in 1916. And Sadie is the youngest of a family of seven. And there’s a brother in between Sadie and I. So I’m the third youngest.

When I was born, my father was a peddler who was born Aleppo and arrived to the United States. And my father used to peddle in the state of Virginia, and my uncle said ‘That’s a nice American name,’so they called me Virginia. A few weeks ago I was with the rabbi, and I told him how I got my name. He said ‘Don’t you have a Syrian name?’ I said no. ‘Don’t you have a Hebrew name?’ I said ‘No, my name is Virginia.’ That’s it. But they call me V. “

“We were four children. We slept in one bed. Head and toe. And then when my brother Abe and Adele got married, they lived with us, and they had three children. Like my nieces, I feel as though they’re my children. Of course I used to bathe them and dress them. But we had a very nice childhood.” Money was not ever important to me. Clothes were never ever important to me. Makeup or anything was never important to me. Just to be with each other, to have respect for each other, to get along. That’s it. Whatever it is, that’s what’s important, and to be happy and healthy, and keep moving. Don’t sit. If you don’t use it, you lose it. I’m 92 years old, and I do everything. I walk. I cook. I bake. I go the Center. I do exercise. I go on trips. The Center has trips, I go. I try to do everything. I never say that ‘I can’t do it.’ “

“Keep your heart free from hate. Keep your mind free from worry. Live simply, and I live very simply, Expect little. Give much. Sing often, and I sing, Pray always. Fill your life with love, scatter sunshine. Forget self. Think of others. Do as you would be done by. These are the true, tried links of content gold chain. I have it in frames all over the house.”