Is there an Iranian who lives in Israel

Jews in Iran - a life in the diaspora?

You live in the very state whose president denies the Holocaust against the Jews: The largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel lives in Iran. The members consider themselves Iranian Jews. The question of where their parents come from is for these people - in contrast to other Jews living in the Diaspora - of no importance. Many Iranian Jews respond to the special immigration permission granted by the State of Israel, not least because of Ahmadinejad's statements, and which entails privileged religious freedom: "Our Iranian identity cannot be weighed in with money."

Arash Abaie, representative of the Jewish community at the state institute for religious dialogue in Iran and founder of the Jewish monthly magazine “Bina”, explains the bond: "In folk history they are the oldest and most stable Jews in the world BC) in the areas of what is now Iran, while other Jews had to change their place of residence and country from generation to generation. " Its roots can be traced back to the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Iran could therefore be described as the second Jewish homeland in the world.

The culture is more Persian

This is also evident in relation to language. Abaie's Jewish magazine "Bina" appears in Persian. Abaie says there are only differences in language when it comes to prayer. "Hebrew is just as much the language of prayer for Iranian Jews as Arabic is for Iranian Muslims". Jewish culture is not as cultivated in Iran as it is in the rest of the world. "Here, the religious culture is more Persian than Jewish. The wedding and mourning customs are more similar to those of the Iranians than those of the Jews in other countries," explains Abaie.

There are no Jewish neighborhoods in Iranian cities. As Iranians, you live in the neighborhood with other Iranians. The Jewish surgeon Dr. Mohaber works twice a week in the "Saphir" hospital in the capital Tehran, which is financed by Iranian Jews at home and abroad. "The majority of our visitors are Muslims. Quite a few would like to be treated as inpatients or examined by a Jewish doctor," he says and shows that there is no fear of contact between the religions.

Despite the similar lifestyle, three quarters of the 100,000 or so Jews who lived in Iran 30 years ago have left the country. Iranian Zohre Mohammadie cites the Iran-Iraq war as one of the reasons: "Because of the war, we had to flee to other cities. Younger Jews emigrated abroad straight away," says the 62-year-old, whose children live in Germany. “Our town was very small, but half of the population were Sunnis and Jews. We spent hours together at both weddings and funeral services. When our Jewish neighbors had baked bread for their festivities, the whole neighborhood got some of it. On Saturdays (Sabbath note), a neighbor girl made the fire for our Jews for the samovar, "she recalls.

First the Islamic Revolution (1979), then the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) and finally the economic sanctions. Social misery and a lack of democracy are reasons enough for many Iranians to emigrate. Up to 70 percent of Iranian Jews have opted for the diaspora, mainly in the US and Europe, Abaie says, others have gone to Israel.

The Holocaust is not known to many Iranians

In November 2005, the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced that his government would wipe the State of Israel off the map. Months later, he caused outrage around the world when he denied the genocide of six million Jews, the Holocaust. While his provocation made waves around the world, many Iranians wondered what the Holocaust actually meant. "Until then, most of the Iranians had never heard the word Holocaust because the Iranian Jews were spared," explains Abaie. Due to the distance to Europe and the lack of emigration motives of the Jews at the time, the Jewish-Iranian religious community was not marked by the Holocaust "After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the Holocaust in Iran was kept secret," said the Iranian Jew, Arash Abaie.

When the Hungarian Imre Kertész was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002 for his book “A Fateful Novel”, Abaie wrote about the Holocaust experiences of the young Kertész in the magazine “Bina”. He was then formally asked to drop this issue. "When Ahmadinejad took office, an Iranian Jew did not feel any significant changes in everyday life," continued Abaie, but it was all the more difficult for the intellectual Jews: "The more informed you are, the more you suffer under the current circumstances."

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