The departure of the late Shah was a terrible day of sadness for the majority of Jews living in Iran because he and his father had literally transformed their lives for the better. The Pahlavi dynasty had essentially removed all the previous social, economic and educational barriers that Jews and other religious minorities had encountered for centuries in Iran. Jews under the Pahlavi dynasty were finally able to pull themselves up and out of their ghettos to become one of the most prosperous and successful Jewish communities in the world. When the Shah was forced into exile, the rugs were literally yank out from underneath the Jews who had supported his reign and benefited from the atmosphere of religious tolerance he had created in Iran for them.
Interestingly enough a number of older Iranian Jews living in Los Angeles recently told me that a day of mourning and fasting was called by the late head rabbi Hacham Yedidia Shofet in Iran when the Shah left the country. Even though life in Iran was never perfect during the Pahlavi dynasty, in my own opinion Iranian Jews owe a great deal of gratitude to the Pahlavi monarchs for a lot of what Iranian Jews have today. This is because both Pahlavi kings probably did as much if not more to help Iranian Jewry than ancient Persia’s first monarch, Cyrus the Great had done for the Jews.