Jews of Persia : An ancient Community.

Jewish communities throughout the Middle East, in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria have all gone, bar a handful here and there.  Yet Persia (Iran) is home to some  25,000 to 35,000  Jews. The Jewish population is now less than half the number who lived here before the Islamic revolution of 1979.  However the Jews have tried to compensate for their diminishing numbers by adopting a new religious fervor.

The Yusef Abad Synagogue (Persian: Kenise e Yusef Ábád کنیسه یوسف آباد‎, Hebrew: בית הכנסת יוסף-אבד‎) is one of the largest synagogues in Tehran, Iran.

Nahit Eliyason in Tehran says

”The funny thing is that before the Islamic revolution, you would see maybe 20 old men in the synagogue, now the place is full. You can barely find a seat.”

Parvis Yashaya, a film producer who heads Tehran’s Jewish community, adds:

”We are smaller, but we are stronger in some ways.”

Tehran has some 12 functioning synagogues, many of them with Hebrew schools. It has two kosher restaurants, and a Jewish hospital, an old-age home and a cemetery.

There is a Jewish representative in the Iranian parliament. There is also a Jewish library.

Iran’s Jewish community is confronted by contradictions. Many of the prayers said in synagogue, refer to the desire to see Jerusalem again. Yet there is no postal service or telephone contact with Israel, and any Iranian who dares travel to Israel faces imprisonment and passport confiscation.

Iranian Jews trace their history to the reign of Persia’s King Cyrus. As the Bible tells it, Cyrus conquered Babylonia in 539 B.C., liberated the Jews from captivity, and raised funds for the rebuilding of their destroyed temple in Jerusalem. The return of the Jews to Jerusalem at that time was accompanied by a large migration to the lands which were then Persia, and now Iran.

Life of Jews living in Iran. (link)     Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture

The women don’t have to dress as tightly covered as Muslim woman but cover their heads with brightly coloured scarves.

Human rights groups though say Jews and other minorities in Iran face discrimination. Last year, officials in Iran’s presidency denied that Rouhani had a Twitter account after a tweet that appeared to be from the leader offered a greeting for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Iranian state television also has aired anti-Semitic programming.

Clearly as this documentary (in two parts) from the ABC show life in Iran for Jews is not as free from restriction as  we are led to believe .

Yet in saying that, following is a report from the country where former president Ahmadinejad, reportedly called “the Jewish holocaust a legend and a myth” and spoke of the ” Jewish world lobby”

This event was strangely under-reported and ignored in Israel and the Diaspora, though the Arab/Muslim world promoted it widely.

The event to the tomb of a famed Jewish scholar, Harav Ourshara, took place around the 20th November 2014. The Molla Agha Baba Synagogue, is in the city of Yazd 420 miles (676 kilometers) south of capital Tehran, Iran. Some 3000 years B.C. Yzadt was related to by the name of Ysatis

The Molla Agha Baba Synagogue was built more than a hundred years ago. People go to to perform their prayers early in the morning on November 20 where they shed tears and pray for their wishes to come true. This pilgrimage made now annually, was denied under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and by all accounts the new president Rouhani is affording minority religions greater freedom of religion.

An excellent account as reported by The Daily Mail online  via The Official website of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. It has many photos.

An excellent slideshow at ahramonline

Thousands of Jewish families from all over Iran convened in the central Iranian city of Yazd to perform a special pilgrimage.

The Jewish families gathered at the Molla Agha Baba Synagogue, to celebrate the unity and uniqueness of Jewishness, during which the former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, suffered from institutional discrimination and lack of attention.

But in recent years, after the Hassan Rouhani election, Iranian Jews (who make up one of the biggest Jewish communities in the Middle East) like other religious minorities in Iran, are feeling better and relieved in public after years of exclusion.

More than a thousand people trekked across Iran to YAZD, Iran to visit a shrine in this ancient Persian city.

If anyone has any information about the Jewish scholar, Harav Ourshara I would appreciate it please.

I am unable to find anything!! The address is at the bottom of the Home Page.


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