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Iran Week: Why Some Iranian Jews Stay.

"My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents spent their lives in this neighborhood," Aviva, an 84-year-old Jewish grandmother in Tehran, Iran, explained to me over the phone, as her warm voice shivered with years of memories. "My ancestors, in fact, settled in this country more than 30 centuries ago."

Aviva's reference to 3,000 years of history points also to the origins of the Jewish community in Iran, then known as Persia. The peaks and valleys of Iran Jewish history date back to the late biblical times. The Jewish population predominantly moved to Persia during the Achaemenid Empire, when Cyrus the Great invaded Babylon. The Jewish community became an important, integral and influential part of Persian society, and some scholars argue that at some point, 20 percent of the population was Jewish. People who were once captives became important historical figures, such as Queen Esther. Persian kings including Artaxerxes, Cyrus, and Darius permitted the Jews to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem.

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Author:Rafizadeh, Majid
Publication:Tablet Magazine
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jun 30, 2017
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