Iranian Jews have been living in Iran (Persia) since 2700 years ago and there are many holy and historical places of Jews in this country such as the tomb of Prophet Daniel in the city of Shoush, Ester and Mordechai in Hamedan and Prophet Habakkuk in Touiserkan.
There are also tombs of several outstanding Jewish scholars in Iran like "harav Uresharga" in Yazd and "Hakham Mullah Moshe Halevi" in Kashan. Muslims had respected these also.
At the present, population of the Jews in Iran is estimated about 25,000 to 30,000 of which about 15,000 people are in Tehran (the Capital) and the rest of them in terms of population are residing in Shiraz, Isfahan, Kermanshah, Yazd, Kerman, Rafsanjan, Borujerd, Sanandaj and Oromieh respectively.
Administration of Jewish Social Religious affairs in the past has been under the two authorities, “Hebra” (the assembly of the elite of community) and “Bet-Din” (the house of religion). Since 1938, Hebra was formally registered under the title of “Tehran Jewish Committee (Association)” and now is operating under supervision of the Ministry of Interior, and Ministry of culture and Islamic Guidance and Endowments Organization. This association has committees (subgroups) like Cultural, States, Youth, (Domestic) Dispute Settling, and Cooperative committees (for poor families).
By establishment of the National legislature in Constitutional period (about a century ago), religious minorities in Iran obtained representation in the parliament and since then Jews have always had representatives in the parliament. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, a Jewish representative has had an active presence in the Constitution of Elite Council. According to the Constitution, Jews have a representative in Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament called “Majlis”). Political, social, and religious activities of Jewish society revolve around Jewish religious authorities (Currently Chief Rabbi Yousef Hamedani Cohen), Jews representative in Islamic Consultative Assembly and Tehran Jewish Committee Board of Directors. Any position declaration or pursuance of legal, political, and social issues of Jewish society is addressed through the above bodies.
At the present, this community has many synagogues, special schools, cultural complexes, youth, students and women centers, aging centers, central libraries, computer training centers, music training centers, gathering halls and butcheries according to Jewish religion in different regions and cities of the country. Information and publishing of Jewish cultural works as many different books and journals almost always have been present and after the Islamic Revolution, in addition to periodical local bulletins, the magazine of “Tamouz” (up to 1989) and the monthly of “Ofegh-BINA” (organ of Jewish Committee since 1999) have been responsible for the task. Tehran Jews usually do their sport activities in the sport club of “Gibor.” This club is responsible for sport training courses and competitions as well as contests between religious minorities and always has the cooperation from Jew and non-Jew coaches. Jewish Women Organization is cooperating with this club in women sport affairs too. Charity Hub is also one of the charity agencies of Jewish society and one of its main activities is managing the Dr. Sapir Hospital in south of Tehran city that provides services to all of Tehran citizens. The cost of maintaining this hospital is primarily provided by the Jewish charities.
Religious teaching for Jews is taught formally up to the end of high school according to books approved by Education Ministry in certain hours (instead of Islamic teachings and the Quran) in public schools. Along with this, sessions for training of religious teachings and the explanation of Torah and sometimes teachings of Talmud are taught irregularly in the synagogues (Talmud Torah). In addition, groups of youth usually organize religious gathering and congregations and religious speeches in most of synagogues of Tehran and other cities throughout the country.
Tehran Jews has established and made use of many schools but in recent years, because of reduction in population as well as dispersal of Jewish students to other public schools, a number of these schools are being used by the Education Office and Muslim students. Now, five special schools for teaching Jews are active in Tehran.
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Among the daily important tasks of the Cultural Committee is providing answers to Muslim scholars about different aspects of Jewish religion and culture. In addition, association of the Cultural Committee has the responsibility of editing and evaluation of several books and academic dissertations about the Jewish religion and in some cases a representative from this committee has also participated in the formal defense of dissertations .
Fortunately, the Jewish Committee as a formal authority is reflecting views in the field of Jewish culture at the scientific and academic circles of the country.Thus in many of the meetings, seminars and mass media programs which are held on monotheistic religions, cultural and religious delegates from the Jewish religious community are invited to take part by the Tehran Jewish Committee.
In addition per an agreement reached by the colleges of religious courses of Tehran's universities, in each educational term, a session of Jewish religion subject matter is provided in which an expert from the Cultural Committee in the university is present or university students actively take part in these sessions held by the Cultural Committee.
Publications make up another part of activities of the Cultural Committee. Sidour “Tefilat Yasharim” (prayer book) along with Persian translation of its important parts has been recently prepared and provided . Compilation and publication of Jewish and Persian yearly calendar is the responsibility of experts from this Cultural Committee.
Press and Publications Division of Tehran Jewish Committee take part in the Tehran International Book Fair every year and have a special pavilion for providing answers to Iranian Muslim clientel.
The Journal of “Ofegh-BINA”
This magazine as the organ of Jewish Committee began its publication in 1999. This is a social, news, and cultural journal and aims to provide information services to the Iranian Jewish community as well as making their Muslim countrymen and women familiar with Jewish culture and establishing dialog between the two. Most of its authors and operators are made up of Jewish youth and Mr. Haroun Yashayaei; the current chairman of the board of directors of theTehran Jewish Committee is its managing director.
This magazine has been welcomed and promoted by the authorities of Islamic Republic of Iran.
This dictionary is compiled by “Solomon Haim” (1889-1968), one of the most famous Jewish scientists of Iran. He has compiled the most well known French-Persian, Persian-English, and English-Persian dictionaries and for this he is highly honored among the people of Iran.
in 1935 he began his 10-year effort of compiling Hebrew-Persian Dictionary and published a valuable and unique book that since then has used by Jewish and non-Jewish scholars of Iran in the Hebraic language and texts. He also began compiling a Persian-Hebrew Dictionary, but most did not complete the work due to his death.The edition and publication of this dictionary was takenup by Tehran Jewish Committee but despite all its efforts, the objective has not been achieved.Now a special task force in the Cultural Committee is editing, adding new words, updating and performing final typesetting of the work to be prepared for publication.
The most important duties of the Cultural Committee are the handling and supervising of special Jewish schools and providing classes for religious teaching and training of Jewish religious acts for those Jewish students that study in public schools.
According to estimates, about 1200 Jewish students are studying in Iran that in Tehran half of the Jewish students are studying in special schools and other half attend in public schools. In other cities, all of Jewish students attend public schools and their religious teachings and acts are usually taught on Fridays (weekend holiday in Iran) and these special classes are held in Tehran, Shiraz, and other Jewish-residing cities of the country.
Nursery schools of the Tehran Jewish Committee have been quite successful in the community with general attendance of more than 100 Jewish children learning special lessons and skills in these schools under the guidance of principals and experienced trainers.
The Central Library of the Jewish Association with more than 8000 titles and 14000 volumes is now active and is one of the important centers of the Jewish Committee Due to the variety of titles and subjects of the books and the preparing of the "last published editions" of newly published local and foreign books, the library has attracted many borrowers and members.
Aside from Jewish members and clients, many of the clients of this library are f non-Jewish scholars and researchers who by receiving guidance from the Cultural Committee and Library authorities make use of the comprehensive resources of the Library especially in the division allocated to religion and culture.
Providing Jewish special schools with computer sites as well as training formal courses and extra computer courses in these schools are among the responsibilities of the Computer Center of Tehran Jewish Committee. All services of typesetting, page setting and typography, the press and publications of Tehran Jewish Committee as well as providing technical support for computer units of this Committee and related centers are included among the tasks of this center’s experts.
Designing, operating, supporting and updating the internet Base of the Tehran Jewish Committee which are among the most important activities of this center are done in direct cooperation with Cultural Committee and the journal of “Ofegh-Bina”. At the present, this site is in Persian and soon its English version will also be in operation.
Providing various computer software including translation of “Psalm” (Tehilim) and designing Hebrew font compatible with Persian software are project central to the scientific activities of this center.
Organizing the activities of Iranian Jewish youth in cultural, artistic, sport, and social fields is one of the most important duties of the Tehran Jewish Committee. Attraction of emigration abroad, disappointment in the finding appropriate jobs and problems in regarding to mating and marriage in Jewish community are among the special problems of Iranian Jewish community youth.
Sport teams of Jews for boys in
futsal,volleyball and basketball fields are active now. Young people and their
families have welcomed forming classes for musical training at different levels.
Organizing recreational and pilgrimage tours in different parts of Iran for
Jewish youth are some other activities of this committee. To achieve the above
purposes, there are several youth organs in Tehran, Shiraz and Isphahan.
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