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10/24/08

Jewish Iranian-Americans: Leveraging Youth to Make a Change at 30 Years After

Source: PARSA Community Foundation

Los Angeles is home to the largest community of Iranians outside of Iran, including 50,000 Jewish Iranian-Americans.  Jewish Iranian-Americans are one of the most affluent and highest educated groups in the United States and in the past three decades, the group has grown considerably yet has retained its tight-knit sense of community and tradition. In achieving the "American Dream," they have also made significant volunteer-based and philanthropic contributions to Jewish and non-Jewish causes. These include development of community centers and places of worship, providing services for refugees and securing medical care for people in need, While staying cognizant to their heritage, Jewish-Iranians are now turning their attention to civic participation.
 
In 2007 Jewish Iranian-American Sam Yebri founded 30 Years After, a nonprofit organization aimed at promoting educational, political and community involvement. Among its many activities, the group hosts a civic action conference, runs a mentorship program for Iranian-Jewish students and holds a voter registration drive.
 
On September 14, 2008, 30 Years After hosted its 2008 Civic and Political Action Conference in Beverly Hills, California, attended by approximately 1,000 participants and featuring prominent speakers such as Councilman and former Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad and California Congressman Henry Waxman.  "We as Iranians have power of money and power in our education, but we don't have power in politics," noted Mr. Delshad. Yet he also noted that ""We are not here as guests. We are here to stay, and when we are here to stay we have to contribute."
 
It is this sentiment that 30 Years After seeks to build upon, through educating, inspiring and mobilizing the Iranian Jewish community through civic action conferences every two years, as well as through quarterly lectures and seminars. Among its most striking accomplishments is its ability to involve youth in its activities. Its Board of Directors is entirely under 30 years old and in an effort to link the two communities it has already announced plans to open a second chapter in New York. Taking a cue from other ethnic groups that have successfully built a tradition of civic participation in the United States, they have enlisted the help of students at their speaking engagements, registering almost 1,000 new voters in the last seven months.
 
By encouraging the second generation of Jewish Iranian-Americans to get involved, 30 Years After is ensuring that today's college students and young professionals will be the leaders of tomorrow. Combining their ability to organize events that mobilize their own community with their eagerness to collaborate with established minority groups in the U.S., 30 Years After has become a model for organizations that seek to engage young people in the civic process.

... Payvand News - 10/24/08 ... --



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