Age: 55 |
Birth City: آبادان |
Joined on October 02, 2012
Compared with many other Jewish communities in today’s world, Iranian Jews seem safe. There are no guards at the entrances to synagogues and Jewish institutions, just as it used to be when I first came to know Jewish venues in Montreal, Baltimore and Paris. My memories, admittedly vague, of the synagogue in Leningrad during my youth do not include any image of guards, let alone armed soldiers who guard synagogues in major European cities. Most of the Jewish homes that I visited are quite modest. This, of course, did not prevent them from being very hospitable.
(Photo: Yakov Rabkin)
My discovery of Jewish life in Iran began on the Sabbath. On Friday afternoon I walked to the synagogue along the Palestine Avenue. The street leads to the Palestine Square in the middle of which stands a monument to the Palestinians’ struggle. On the way I also saw a picture of a tank accompanied by a quote from Khomeini “Israel must be omitted from the world” (sic). This sentence was written on a large firewall facing the street. This sentence had been mistranslated and manipulated, leading to a panic, real or feigned, in Israel and among its fans elsewhere, who mistook it for a call “to wipe the country off the map” and thereby annihilate its population.
Nearby stands a spacious building of the main synagogue, which also houses a Jewish school, a kolel and a kosher restaurant. The door was wide open, and I saw congregants were getting ready for the afternoon services. There was a portrait of Hofetz Haim prominently displayed at the entrance, and a few phrases from his book against bad mouthing. But a local friend took me across the street to a smaller synagogue, the floor of which was entirely covered with carpets. This is the custom of almost all of the synagogues I saw in Iran. After taking off shoes we were seated in a place of honor, and the prayers began >>> more photos