It is 40 years since the Iranian revolution deposed the ruling Shah and precipitated the exodus of most of the country’s Jews. The Tablet, under the guest-editorship of Miriam Levy-Haim, is running a series of articles examining various effects of this cataclysmic event.
But while revolutions overturn governments and political entities,
they also overturn communities, families, and the lives of
individuals. How do people maintain and reconstruct a sense of self when
everything that has grounded them for centuries and even millennia has
been irrevocably changed?
When 75 percent of the Iranian Jewish community fled, a significant
number of Jews decided to stay and they continue to remain there, living
and working and practicing as Jews. Roya Hakakian describes
the remaining Jewish community as a hopeful elegy, a metaphor for the
Iranian people’s striving for freedom.
from Lior Sternfeld’s excellent, recently released history
of 20th-century Jewish life in Iran explores Jewish attitudes toward
the Revolution, and how and why some young Iranian Jews participated, as
patriots and as Jews. Majid Rafizadeh describes when he first met a Jew in Iran.
The Iranian regime is notoriously belligerent toward Israel. Tony Badran writes
about the role of the PLO and Yasser Arafat in the Islamic
Revolution. How do Jews who left Iran mediate their Persian identity?
Novelist Gina Nahai reviews some post-revolutionary memoirs by Persian
Asher Shasho Levy explores how Persian music reflects the Jewish
experience in Iran in an interview with Maureen Nehedar, an Iranian-Israeli paytanit—liturgist. The
revolutionary ideology was grounded, in part, in resentment of the
West. Thamar Gindin explains the history and lingering legacy of that