Shalom Levi was born on October 2nd, 1926 in Kirkuk, the oil city of Iraq, the fourth child of Mordechai and Sarah Levi, members of the Nash-Didan community, Aramaic-speaking Jews from the Azerbaijan region. His original name was Daniel, but after contracting a life-threatening illness, his parents changed his name to Shalom, Salim in Arabic. Shalom studied Talmud Torah, spoke Aramaic at home and Arabic in public, and at the age of 6 he helped his father in the family fabric store. After the end of the British Mandate in Iraq in 1932, relations between Arabs and Jews worsened.
Shalom’s father understood the danger of the situation and decided that the family would make aliya to Jerusalem in separate groups. Despite all the difficulties, obtaining passports, encountering bandits, and the arrest of Shalom’s brother, Moshe, by the British, Shalom’s family managed to reach Jerusalem safely in 1938. With the help of Shalom’s older brother Levi, and with the help of other relatives in Jerusalem, the family found settlement. Mordechai opened a grocery store in Tel Arza, Levi opened a goldsmith shop, and the family grew until there were 10 children.
Shalom was active and hardworking, he studied Hebrew in evening classes and from newspapers. When he was 16, he applied to join the Jewish Settlement Police (Ghaffir). The officer refused to hire him, due to his young age, but Shalom did not give up and tried again. Eventually, because the officer appreciated his tenacity, he was accepted. In his capacity as a police officer (Ghaffir), Shalom guarded Mount Sodom from infiltrators and smugglers, and also guarded the Bab al-Wadd water pumps. In 1944, his brother Levi, who owned a jewelry workshop, offered him a job, and Shalom began the study of his future profession.
Following the slaughter of Jews in Europe, attacks from the Arabs in Israel and the stifling British regime, Shalom, who believed in the ideology of Avraham Stern – “Yair”, volunteered for Lehi. In the attack on Dir Yassin on the 9th of April, 1948, he was injured from 2 bullets and fell down bleeding. His commanding officer, Ariella (Leah Prisant), bravely rushed to his help while under fire, stopped the bleeding, removed him and saved him from death. Shalom recovered in a British hospital, and on April 13th he was supposed to be moved to Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital, but at the last minute they sent a more seriously injured patient instead. Shalom was again spared because that was the Hadassah convoy, in which 78 Jews were killed. Three months later, on July 25th, 1948, the Lehi arsenal exploded at camp Dror, and among the five dead was Ariella. Her death shocked and deeply upset him. Later, after marrying his love Sarah Mizrahi and having a daughter in 1950, he named her Ariella after his commander.
Shalom, loved Israel greatly and believed unity among the people was essential, he enlisted in the IDF in 1951 and while in the reserves, he took part in the Six-Day War. In 1969, Shalom and his family emigrated to the United States, where Shalom made a living as a jeweler and lived the rest of his life.
Shalom died on October 12th, 2014, and is buried in Queens, New York.