The Jews of Iran: The History, Religion and Culture of a Community in the Islamic World
Edited by Houman Sarshar
Of the 80,000 or so Jews still living in Iran when the 1979 Islamic revolution occurred, the vast majority have fled, leaving a community of about 20,000 to 25,000, according to a U.S. Department of State estimate in 2009. Despite the propaganda emanating from Iran, it is undeniable that at least 13 Jews have been executed there since the Islamic revolution, supposedly for being connected to Israel or for helping fellow Jews emigrate. In this tragic context, it is fitting that one of the strongest chapters of “The Jews of Iran,” which focuses on Jewish Iranian women’s memoirs, reminds us that for such reminiscences to be written, survival is a prerequisite.
In one of this collection’s essays, Jaleh Pirnazar, who teaches in the department of Near Eastern studies at the University of California, Berkeley, discusses the legacy of Jewish Iranian political activist Edna Sabet. In 1982, Sabet was arrested and tortured; the following year, she was executed. Despite eyewitness accounts and reports by international human rights organizations, Pirnazar writes, “Prison officials and government authorities claim no knowledge of this case, and they continue to cover up this crime… Edna’s story, and perhaps those of other Jewish political activists [in Iran], thus remains untold and shrouded in silence.”