Archive for the 'Iranian Jewry' Category

The Iranian Oskar Schiendler

bkyser on Apr 21st 2012

Abdol-Hossein Sardari, better known as the Iranian Oskar Schiendler, earned this title for the 2,000 Iranian Jews that he helped save during World War II. Sardari, who is Muslim, served as a diplomat in Paris during the rise of the Nazis. He was able to save many Iranian Jews by issuing them the new-style Iranian passports needed to prove that they were Iranian and to return to Iran. The Nazis did not consider Iranian Jews to be like European Jews, because they Nazis deemed them as part of the Aryan nation. Sardari told the Nazis that the Iranian Jews were different from the European Jews by creating his own sect, the “Mousaique,” who followed Moses, and who were not part of the Jewish race. Sardari’s work has been so influential that the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles has recognized him for his work. Read more here.

“Here you have a Muslim Iranian who goes out of his way, risks his life, certainly risks his career and property and everything else, to save fellow Iranians” -Fariborz Mokhtari

Brian Wheeler, “The ‘Iranian Schindler’ who saved Jews from the Nazis,” British Broadcasting Company, December 20, 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16190541 (accessed April 21, 2012).

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Jewish Legacies in Iran

bkyser on Apr 2nd 2012

In this article, Jewish Iranian-American author, Roya Hakakian, discusses the issue of a future war between Iran and Israel. She makes reference to the achievements in industrialization in Iran that are a result of the design and labor of two prominent Jewish families, the Nazarians and the Elghanians. The Nazarians are credited for the sewage system and laying the groundwork for many of the plans that have developed the city of Isfahan. The Elghanians are known for designing and building high-rise buildings in Tehran.

Hakakian also mentions that 20,000 Jews live in Iran today making Iran home to the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel. The prospect of a future war between Israel and Iran, in Hakakian’s view, would be degrading and ignoring the contributions that each of these cultures has brought to each other. Looking at history, Cyrus the Great served as a savior figure for the Jewish people by giving them a home in Babylon. Also, during the Holocaust, many Jews left France through the help of Abdol-Hossein Sardari, the head of Iran’s diplomatic mission to France. Today, in Iran, as a result of this mission, there are Polish cemeteries where the descendants of Polish immigrants to Iran still go to pay their respects.

Roya Hakakian, “What Two Enemies Share,” The New York Times, February 25, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/opinion/sunday/iran-and-israel-share-bonds.html?_r=3 (accessed April 2, 2012).

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