I am a young Jewish Iranian woman who read the, "I
must be a Jew" piece as well as all of the controversial follow
ups. As a Los Angeles resident for fourteen years I am well aware of
the tension between Iranian Jews and Iranian Muslims. I have friends
who are Jewish, Muslim, Bahai, and Christian, but we do not measure how
Iranian each one is on the basis of faith. My High School had its share
of politics that separated the Muslims from the Jews, but when another
group came against either of us "The Persians" would join as
I was born in the United States in 1978 and I have never visited Iran.
My parents are divorced, and I have lived in a single parent family since
the age of six. My once very traditional Iranian father does not keep
in touch, he does not send child support, and currently lives with a Christian-American
I was educated by the Los Angeles Unified School District, and speak
Farsi with a full American accent. Sentences such as,"man raftam library"
and "I ate koresht for lunch" are frequently used around our
house. In other words, my family life is not typical Persian (or maybe
it is?). Despite all of that stuff, I am Iranian - My soul feels it.
I am a proud Jew but that makes me no less of an Iranian. The Iranian
community is part of my daily life. Those who have lived in Iran may
say I don't know what it means to be Iranian. But why then, when I read
the words of Rumi or Hafez do I feel a connection that could never come
from Shakespeare? Seems to me that people who lived in Iran during the
revolution in 1979 are those who still feel we are separate. They may
have forgotten what it means to be Persian.
Whether Jewish or Muslim, Bahai or Christian, we are one. We should
hold each other up instead of continuously trying to put the other down.
We came from the same history, and we speak the same language both in
words and in feelings. Only an Iranian understands what love went into
a pot of steaming kalleh-paacheh. Only we can appreciate all the dimensions
of, JOON. And as difficult as it is for me to understand, only an Iranian
can feel Moien inside his veins.
As the future generation of our community, I hope to never question
the commitment of an Iranian to his culture on the basis of religion.
If my peers join me, we may one day have a community of Iranian children
born inside the U.S that are numb to such a separation.