The Mama Sali

The Mama Sali

This morning, I saw my neighbor Sali walking her 2 sons to gan and school. And seeing her, I remembered that in a book I’m reading, an amazing mother was referred to (tongue in cheek) as “The Mama Sali.” A play on the name of the great Sephardi rabbi and kabbalist Rabbi Israel Abuhatzeira, the Baba Sali.
So I said, “Good morning to the Mama Sali!”
Sali smiled, and as we walked together she shared with me a fascinating as well as incredible story. About why she used to think she was named Sali, and why she doesn’t think that’s the real reason anymore…
“When my parents were growing up in Libya, there were many British soldiers living there with their families. My mother heard the English name Sally and she fell in love with it, and she decided that if she ever had a daughter, that’s the name she’d give her.
“Later on, my parents made aliya with their families and then met and got married in Israel. And when I was born, my mother, true to her word, named me Sali (סלי). Growing up in Israel, in Ramat Gan, I was the only Sali around.
“When I was first started becoming religious, I spent one of my first Shabbats in Jerusalem. And that Shabbat, as I was walking around, I noticed signs announcing the upcoming yahrzeit of the Baba Sali, on the 4th of Shvat. That date sounded strangely familiar to me. And after Shabbat, I checked my identity card, and realized that I was actually born on the 4th of Shvat! Years before the Baba Sali passed away in 1984. In other words, I was born on the yahrzeit of the Babi Sali before it was the yahrzeit of the Baba Sali, and named Sali!
“They say that parents have ruach hakodesh, a bit of prophecy, when naming a new baby. And I, from my own personal experience, definitely believe that to be true:)”


  1. This is so sweet.

    I come from Georgia and many girls are named Sali 🙂 or Salomè which is a la hebrew Shalom.

    Hashem should bless all the mama salis around!

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