Review by David Rahni
Habib Levi (Author)
Hooshang Ebrami (Editor)
George W. Maschke (Translator)
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I had actually read the original Persian version of the book, Comprehensive History of Jews of Iran years ago; nonetheless, it was quite enlightening now to re-read it in English with nostalgic reminiscences. So, notwithstanding the much heated (mostly baseless) rhetoric by a few self-serving politicians from all sides, let me share with you a select digest of highlights of the Book, which clearly demonstrate the deeply sustained lives of Jewish people of Iran and the rest of the population there for at least three millennia. A highly popular TV sitcom in Iran called Zero Degree Turn, that has currently captivated the whole country Monday evenings during its broadcast, is a self testimonial to such deep relationship (watch several segments on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQnlAerDSj0 ). An avid reader should also refer to the Center for Iranian Jewish History .
The highlights of the Book are as follows:
1. The Iranian Jewish history coincides with the time of the arrival of the Aryan tribes (The Persians, the Medes and the Partians) in the Iranian plateau, a little over 3000 years ago.
2. The exodus of the Babylonian
3. The multi-faceted
contributions of Jews of Iran toward the civilization
4. Perhaps as many as one-third of Iranians throughout the 14th century, were of Jewish faith, the other Iranians were one-third Moslem and the remaining one-third, Zoroastrian (believed to be the first monotheistic religion), as narrated by the European Orientalist travelers of the time.
5. Cyrus the Great, the Persian
King of the Achaemenid Dynasty, is cited on multiple times in the Old
Testament, and his royal successors provided long standing refuge to people
of Jewish faith in all region of
6. Through intermarriages, voluntary and involuntary conversions to Islam, and in the past 150 years to Baha'ism, there are hardly any discernable genetic bio-markers, albeit phenotypic distinctions that identify amongst Iranians of Jewish, Moslem, Baha'i, Zoroastrian or Armenian descent. They are all look alike, in almost all cases are of the same stock, and they follow a set of Iranian cultural norms that has extended for several thousand years in the region.
7. There are historical and contemporary evidence of vibrant Jewish life in major cities of Iran such as Susa, Hamedon, Kashan, Neishapur, Tus, Rey, Mash-had, Shiraz, Esfahan, Tehran, Toyserkan; the same is (was) also evident in Iranian cities of the past--that are currently in other countries--like Baku, Samarghand, Bukhara, Merv, Heart, and Tashkent.
7. Despite periodical inequalities and injustices inflicted on the Iranian Jews, there has never been any state sponsored or clan instigating directed persecutions against anyone especially none evidence of against the Jewish people.
8. The Book illustrates that
there are more Jewish relics, monuments, prophets, celebrations (e.G., Hanukah
and Purim), etc. In
9. The Book highlights the substantive contributions of Iranian Jews in every field, ranging from government to trade and banking, and arts and sciences, literature and poetry, logic and ethics, etc.
10. The presence of Iranian
scholars, Jew and Moslem alike, in the Moslem governing courts of
11. Many duly recognized Jewish prophets, leaders and royalties were Iranian in history. Names such as Daniel, Esther and Mordecai are just a few who come to mind and whose resting places are still revered by all Iranians.
12. In 1979, there were well over 100,000 Iranian Jews in
So, I would once again recommend purchasing and reading the Book, and furthermore, encourage its acquisitions by public and college libraries. Educators can use it as an assigned reading supplement to appropriate courses
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