Jews of Iran
Largely forgotten by the rest of the world, Iran is home to the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel. After the revolution in 1979, a majority of the Jews fled, many to the United States, but 25,000 still remain. How are they faring?
The film takes the viewer to a bazaar where Moses Baba runs the shop his grandfather started 95 year ago. He is the exception to the rule of keeping a low profile as he exuberantly invites visitors to have a glass of vodka (forbidden in Islamic Iran except to Jews). Behind closed doors, Jewish women discard the required head scarves and celebrate ceremonies such as circumcision. Occasionally an expatriate will return for a visit; we meet one who is seeking a Jewish bride who is has not been exposed to the freedom that American girls enjoy.
The Jewish community has become more devout since 1979 and there are 22 synagogues in Tehran. Despite periodic harassment the constitution protects Iran's Jews and they are even represented by one member in Parliament --a precarious position since the Parliament periodically calls for the destruction of Israel.
Iran's Jews claim a lineage stretching back almost three thousand years to the Persian king Cyrus the Great who conquered Babylon and freed the Jewish slaves. The younger generation may yearn to go to America, but to the older Jews, Iran is in their blood.
Middle East Studies Association, 2006
St Louis Jewish Film Festival, 2006
"We are given a peek at a very close and proud community.... We see views of the city of Shiraz as well as scenes of the lives of these people: temple worship, business life, a circumcision among others. When the Iranian Jews speak there are subtitles to assist the viewer with their imperfect English. Technically, this production shows no lack with the sound and picture quality being very good. Recommended." Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College for EMRO