For us, Iran is often associated with constant danger, because of which we have forgotten its heritage

For us, Iran is often associated with constant danger, because of which we have forgotten its heritage
For us, Iran is often associated with constant danger, because of which we have forgotten its heritage

“Junem!”, my father called me in the middle of the street and I cringed. Nice, dad. did you have to What is “junem” now, and what hilarity. They will come upon me. And if they come upon me, I will be forced to confront it from now on. And what is “this”?

I will have to remember the voice of my grandfather, Zvi, with the caressing melody that only those who came from a very specific region of Asia have. But I must not recognize the caress inherent in it. After all, it’s a tune that usually raises a laugh and turns into wild laughter. A song of merchants in the 1980s on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, before the era of light rail networks and excavations, which doomed some of them to bankruptcy. Those whose goods in the shop window will almost always be described in a single language. “Orthopedic shoes”. Who say: “You are Kosim and I am Shush-na”. Kosim no thorns Shoshana in Malra Olympic. Those who came from there, a prize. After all, prizes are allowed to be laughed at. As other testimonies are allowed – but a little more.

If I join in the big laugh, maybe no suspicion will arise, like that time we were sitting at dinner and a sweet guy told us about his family’s frightening escape from Persia after they had a rich and full life there. It was their home and overnight they had to leave everything. They arrived in Israel, and here they had a welcome that they will never forget. Kids in the class used to chase him around and hit him while chanting “Percy, Percy”. And me? I conquered the malicious laughter. Even my eyelashes conquered it. I dropped my fork and crawled under the table to give free rein to all my laughing cells.

In the 20th century, Iran knew two opposite revolutions: the first, in 1935, was a military coup led by the officer Reza Shah Pahlavi. The powers of the religious courts were reduced, women were forbidden to walk around in veils, and the men were forced to walk around the streets in the hills, to look European.

More than 40 years later, the Shah’s rule was overthrown in a conservative Muslim revolution, which restored Islamic traditions in culture and law. This sweet guy, who told us a painful story that still bleeds through him, was there in real time. Instead of listening to him and realizing that in his story is hidden the story of all of us, displaced children of displaced people who found a home in Israel on a trembling earth, I laughed.

The truth is that I am not of Persian origin, but Afghan. That’s a separate story. In the area known today as Afghanistan, which used to be considered the northeastern part of Persia, large and important communities of Jews lived for years.

According to Dr. Yitzhak Bezalel, a researcher from “Yid Yitzhak Ben-Zvi”, the Afghan Jewish community is the only community in the world where the men could read and write in Hebrew, including the communities of Russia and Poland who very generously brought out from among them those with the title of “geniuses”. Go tell the world that you find yourself in what is perceived as a culture of caves and beheadings. Go to my book, the magnificent Afghan Genizah, housed in the National Library, testifies more than any other book to the spiritual and cultural wealth. Go tell me that you hid your great-grandfather’s books because of the scandal and only at your son’s bar mitzvah did you dare to read from them to the audience.

Three books are piled on my desk: “The Song of Moses – translation and rhyme of the book Musa Nama by Shahin”, which is presented for the first time in Hebrew. In this book, which was translated and edited with love and wisdom for more than a decade by Baruch Pickel, about ten thousand stanzas appear. They range from the days before the birth of Our Lord Moshe, through the defining events of his life, his days in Egypt, leading the people of Israel in the desert and becoming a nation – until the end of his days.

Shahin was the only poet who brought up in the language of Persian poetry the story of the Pentateuch of the Torah. First, in 1327, he translated the last four books of the Torah – Exodus, Leviticus, the Bible, and Deuteronomy. The dominant participation of Moses in the events described in these books of the Bible is what gave this work its name: “Musa Nama”, meaning “Book of Moses”. I sank into it.

The second book is “The Queen”, a historical novel written by Dr. Tamar Elam Gindin and Mayan Eshkoli. Gindin is known as a commentator on Iranian affairs in the current affairs sections. We have become accustomed to the fact that if we hear “Iran”, there must be some threat hanging over our heads and a madman on a loop on the television. No matter how serious his words are, he will always sound funny. Farouk’s lost brother. And here, this novel, which is clear where it takes place, sheds a whole new light on The Book of Esther, relying on Persian, Greek and Biblical sources of the period, and Iranian and sage legends and midrashim. 2,500 years and nothing has changed, from plotting advisors to petty politics that lead to fateful decisions.

The third book, “The Way of No Return”, written by Shahin Eliyakamel-Zakaim, is very personal, and contains the true story of a Jewish family who fled from Iran to Israel through Turkey, in the midst of the Khomeini revolution and the Iran-Iraq war, shocks that caused uncertainty among Iranian Jews. They were 90 A thousand on the eve of the revolution, and most of them emigrated or fled from it. They were for many generations part of the ancient Persian kingdom, founded by King Cyrus in 539 BC. The largest kingdom in the kingdoms of the ancient world, which ruled large parts of Asia.

Now it is more clear to me than ever that I must visit the exhibition “Five”, which is on display at the Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem and will be closed automatically. In the four decades that have passed since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian artists have felt obliged to support the cry of rebellion by amplifying the collective voice and spreading the message with sophisticated tactics, especially in literature and poetry. The exhibition curated by Orly Cohen examines the Iranian protest since September 2022, through the stories of five Iranian women among hundreds, who paid with their lives and bodies the price of the struggle against the extremist regime.

DJ Gundy’s tracks are playing in the background. I met her last week: bouncy and passionate. Her mother is the singer Janet Yehudian Rothstein, who returned to her Persian heritage after years and combines authentic Persian poetry and Israeli songs of Iranian origin. Gondi emphasizes that she is very proud of her Persian heritage. I look at this 26-year-old, realize that I have a lot to learn from her, log into WhatsApp and send my father one word that I saved from the stickers I received: “Jonam.” Soul.

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