In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Rabbi Yehuda Garami, chief rabbi of the Jewish community in Iran, explains about their daily lives and why he paid a condolence visit to the family of brutally assassinated General Qasem Soleimani earlier this year.

Tensions between Israel and Iran have intensified over the last few years, especially because of Iran’s activities in Syria and counter-activities attributed to Israel against Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps targets in that country.

Many are worried about the well-being of Iran’s small and isolated Jewish community. It is only natural to think that tensions between Israel and Iran could threaten it.

Al-Monitor spoke with Rabbi Yehuda Garami, chief rabbi of the Jewish community in Iran, about the state of Jews in the country in general, their relationship with the regime, as well as with the general population, and their attitudes toward the State of Israel.

The basic question centered around the size of the Jewish community in Iran. Official numbers have it at around 8,000 members, but Garami claims, based on information he has, that the number of Jews is actually much higher.

I estimate that there are between 20,000 and 25,000 Jews in the country. Most of them live in Tehran, Shiraz, Esfahan and Karmanshah, though there are other, small communities too,” he told Al-Monitor.

Then he went on to discuss the state of the community, saying, “We have total freedom of religion. All the synagogues are open, and Torah classes take place there. We have all sorts of educational institutions too, including elementary and middle schools.

According to the rabbi, Jewish religious activities take place openly, without any restrictions. He is personally responsible for providing kosher food to those groups that want it, and the kosher slaughter of meat takes place according to Jewish law.

Over the years I formed several shohets [ritual slaughters]. We even have some excellent kosher restaurants, which are under round-the-clock supervision by a kashrut [dietary law] supervisor.

Because we are a small community, it is only natural that we cannot provide kosher certification services to food producers, because there is not enough demand, but every Jew knows what they can and cannot buy as far as kosher food is concerned.

Garami said that the members of the community bond over Jewish tradition, adding that there are almost no secular Jews in the country. “In Iran, there are Jews who know more Torah and Jews who know less, but everyone is traditional.

All Jews observe the Sabbath, lay tefillin [phylacteries] and respect tradition. At the same time, there is also a very Orthodox community that studies Torah on a very high level and observes all the laws.

Garami said that the members of the community bond over Jewish tradition, adding that there are almost no secular Jews in the country. “In Iran, there are Jews who know more Torah and Jews who know less, but everyone is traditional.

All Jews observe the Sabbath, lay tefillin [phylacteries] and respect tradition. At the same time, there is also a very Orthodox community that studies Torah on a very high level and observes all the laws.

According to Garami, the community is also organized socially and maintains various organizations intended to meet the needs of different groups. These include organizations for youths and students.

And of course, there are also charitable organizations that assist needy Jews throughout the country. “We support at least 150 needy families regularly by providing them with food, and we help young couples get a start in life. There is plenty of mutual aid. We try to help everyone Jew needs it.

The Corona-virus pandemic and international sanctions on Iran have taken a dire toll on the country’s economy. Garami admits that the difficult situation has hurt the Jewish community as well. It is only natural that the people to suffer most from sanctions are from the middle class. As a result, we exert an even greater effort to help them.

Most Jews in the country are business owners, particularly clothing store owners, and they are part of the middle class. While there is a small minority of people [in Iran] — including a few Jews — who are wealthy and are not affected directly by the sanctions, most people really do feel the pressure.”

AL Monitor / ABC Flash Point News 2020.

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
2 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Parasite Empire of Satan
Parasite Empire of Satan
Guest
21-06-20 23:53

Real Jews live in Iran, the country where the three wise men came from?