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Hamdānī , Rabīʽ Mushfiq

(314 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Rabīʽ Mushfiq Hamadānī was born in 1912 in Hamadan and attended both the Alliance Israélite Universelle school and the elite Dār el-Funūn school. He translated two works of philosophy into Persian before the age of twenty. Hamadānī studied to be a French high-school teacher and completed his higher education in two years of philosophical and cultural studies, during which time he also served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Not long after, he was appointed head of the Pars news agency. Hamadānī’s journalistic career began at the Iranian newspapers Mehr and Mehrgān. On the eve of th…

Omidvār, Manūchehr

(387 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Manūchehr Omidvār was born in 1925 in Ahvāz to parents who came from Isfahan. He graduated from the American College of Tehran in 1943 and then earned a bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Law, Political and Economic Sciences of the same institution in 1950. Afterwards he enrolled in the Faculty of Letters, University of Tehran, graduating with a B.A. in Persian language and literature in 1957. Omidvār also attended the College of Journalism at the University of Tehran, graduating summa cum laude in 1953 with a thesis entitled “Zionism in the Modern Age and the Jewish Quest…

Kohan-Ṣedq, Janet

(274 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Janet Kohan-Ṣedq was a Jewish Iranian national track-and-field champion. Her life is an example of modern sports as a vehicle of social integration. Kohan-Ṣedq was born in 1945, graduated from Anūshīrvān High School, and received a degree in physical education from Tehran University. She entered her first 100-meter race in 1960 and won third place. In 1961, in her first adult-league competition, she won the 80-meter race with a record time of 11 seconds. In October of the same year, at the age of sixteen, weighing 40 …

Hekmat, Shamsi

(158 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Shamsi Hekmat (Shamsī Murādpūr Ḥikmat) (1921–1998) was a women’s rights activist in the Jewish community of Iran. She was an advocate of changes in the inheritance laws for the benefit of women and in 1947 was one of the founders (with Maliḥeh Kashfī) of Sāzmān-i Bānovān-i Yahudī-yi Irānī (The Jewish Women’s Organization of Iran). She subsequently served as its president and was a member of its board of directors for thirty-two years. Working with the Women’s Organization, Hekmat helped to establish day care centers for children from poor families. She was also the treasurer…

Kohan Ṣedq, Soleymān (Shelomo)

(307 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Soleyman (Sulaymān/Shelomo) Kohan Ṣedq (1886–1946) was a modernist leader of the Jewish community in Iran. His family moved to Tehran from Gulpāygān. Kohan Ṣedq became an officer in the gendarmerie and served as its treasurer. He was one of the first Zionist activists in Iran. After the Balfour Declaration (1917) the Anjuman-i Farhangī-yi Javānān-i Yahūdī (Pers. Cultural Association of Young Jews) was founded in Tehran. Under the leadership of Kohan Ṣedq it organized a committee called Anjuman-i Taqhviyat-i Zabān-i ʿIbrī (Pers. Association for Strengthening the Hebrew L…

Anjuman-i Kalīmīān

(850 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
The Anjuman-i Kalīmīān-i Tehrān (Pers. Jewish Association of Teheran) was a communal entity in Teheran that in cooperation with committees in other towns oversaw the interests and activities of Iranian Jewry. The AK developed in the 1940s out of the Va‘ad ha-Qehilla (Heb. Jewish Community Council), which was also known as the Ḥebra Israʾel, or Ḥebra.  It was headed by the Jewish representative in the Majlis (parliament). The other members were mostly powerful lobbyists whose fortunes gave them influence at the court and in the wealthier circles of t…

Halevī, Menaḥem Shemu’el

(508 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Menaḥem Shemu’el Halevi was born in 1884 in Hamadan. He was educated at the local religious maktab (Heb. ḥeder) and then at the traditional primary school of the Alliance Israélite Universelle when it opened in 1900. He was subsequently employed at the Alliance school for twelve years, first as a teacher, later as its vice-principal (1907) and principal (1910). His education and communal activism soon made him the Jewish community’s civil leader and representative to the municipality of Hamadan as well as its chief rabbi. Halevi fought zealously against assimilation and conversi…

ʿEzrī, Tzion

(302 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Tzion ʿEzrī, born in 1892 in Isfahan, was one of the first graduates of the Alliance Israélite Universelle school founded in Isfahan in 1901. He completed his studies, which included the French language, in 1913, and in 1915 began working at the Isfahan branch of the Iranian Ministry of the Treasury, collecting taxes on alcoholic beverages and teaching French. Dismissed from the ministry after four years, he served in a secretarial and bookkeeping capacity in the Sixth Gendarmerie Regiment until 1921. ʿEzrī visited Palestine at the beginning of 1925. After his return to Isfa…

Haïm, Soleiman

(385 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Soleiman Haïm, born in the Jewish quarter of Tehran in 1886, was an Iranian Jewish scholar, lexicographer, playwright, and the editor of a series of bilingual dictionaries that earned him  the nickname ustād-i kalām (Pers. master of words). He died in Tehran in 1970. Haïm grew up in stark economic conditions. His early education was in a traditional Jewish elementary school (Pers. maktabkhāneh) . In 1906 he entered the American College of Tehran (a secondary school run by Presbyterian missionaries), and he began teaching English there in 1915.  He was brie…

Ḥanina Mizrahi

(209 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Ḥanina Mizraḥi was born in Tehran in 1886. His father was Rabbi Ḥayyim Eleazar Mizraḥi, the spiritual leader of the Jewish community of Tehran. The family emigrated to Palestine in 1895, and there Ḥanina Mizraḥi attended the Lemel school in Jerusalem, the Mizraḥi seminary for teachers, and Yeshiva Tiferet Yerushalayim. A teacher, educator, and public figure,  Mizraḥi wrote the first  works about the folklore and customs of the Jews of Iran. His books are   Ba-Yeshishim Ḥokhma: Arba'im S ippure ʿA m mi-pi Yehude Iran-Paras (Wisdom Is Among the Elderly: Forty Folktales from the J…

Hatef (Hātif)

(179 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Hatef (Hātif; Pers. The Crier), a Jewish women’s organization in Iran, was active in the 1960s and 1970s. It was led by Dr. Azīza Barāl and functioned in cooperation with Sāzmān-i Bānovān-i Yahudī-yi Irānī (Pers. The Jewish Women’s Organization of Iran). Hatef concentrated its efforts on women in Tehran’s Jewish neighborhood and engaged in social, family, cultural, health, and economic activities. It had branch offices in other cities, among them Isfahan, Shiraz, and Ārak. The organization taught women to read and write as w…

Mizraḥi, Mullāh Ḥayyim Eleazar

(226 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Mullāh Ḥayyim Eleazar Mizra i, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, was born in 1858 in Tehran. In addition to his attending the maktab (traditional Jewish primary school), he studied Torah with his father and with a shadar (rabbinical emissary from Palestine) hired by his father. At the age of fifteen he acquired the honorific title of mullāh because of his extensive knowledge and fascinating sermons. Mullāh Ḥayyim Eleazar worked in the pearl trade and also received financial help from his father. He became an important religious leader and scholar, and led a campaign against the Bahā'īs, publicly …

Qānūn-i Khayr-khwāh

(361 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Qānūn-i Khayr-khwāh (Pers. The Goodwill Center) is a Jewish charitable organization that helps build hospitals, medical clinics, and orphanages throughout Iran. In the early 1940s the Qānūn-i Javānān-i Īsrā'īl-i Irān (Pers. Center for Young Jews of Iran) was established by doctors and young Iranian Jews to aid the needy, raise living standards, and improve sanitary conditions in the Jewish quarter (Pers. maḥalla) of Tehran. Many of its members were at first greatly influenced by the leftist ideologies of their time but became devoted Zionists in later years. During World War II, u…

Kadkhudā

(841 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
In premodern Iran, the   kadkhudā (Pers. master of the household; later, mayor or alderman) was the administrative head of a Jewish community. He had the same  standing as the community’s religious leaders. While they handled internal religious matters, the kadkhudā managed internal communal affairs as well as relations with persons outside the community, and especially government officials. He was the Iranian equivalent of the public administrative figure that in other Jewish communities of the Islamic world was known variously as nasi, nagid, shaykh, muqaddam , or qāʿid . Before t…

Dilmāniān, Yaʿqūb

(265 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Yaʿqūb Dilmāniān (Yaghoub Dilmanian), a Jewish merchant from Mashhad, Iran, compiled a history of the forced conversion to Shīʿī Islam of the city's Jewish community who were known as the Jad īd-i Islām (lit. "the new ones of Islam"). He was born in Mashhad in 1902 and died in 1988. As a businessman he traveled frequently and spent many years outside Mashhad in places such as Bombay. When Dilmāniān turned thirty-two, he decided to gather the recollections of the Mashhadi community elders and write a history of the Allāhdād (Pers. God gave), the forced conversion of the Jews of Mash…

Kohan, Yosef

(290 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Yosef Kohan (1927–1981), an attorney, was the last Jewish representative in the Majlis, Iran’s parliament, before the Revolution of 1979. Born and raised in Tehran, he attended the Kūrosh School and the Alborz high school, and in 1950 graduated from TehranUniversity’s Law School. Kohan became a member of Anjuman-i Kalīmīan (Pers. Jewish Association) and was appointed its vice president in the mid-1950s. He became the first Jewish member of Tehran’s Municipal Council. He championed  Jewish women’s rights and supported the passage of the women’s inheritance law. In 1976…

Shofet, Yedidya

(585 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Yedidya Shofet (1908–2005), a leading religious authority of Iranian Jewry, hailed from Kashan and was descended from twelve generations of rabbis there. His first teacher of Torah and Jewish religious subjects was his father, Rabbi David Shofet. Later, he studied in the maktab (Ar./Pers. Jewish religious school, equivalent to Heb. ḥeder; see Kuttāb) with Mullāh Matanya, Mullāh Yeḥezqel Nāmrudī, Ḥakham Rofeh, and Ḥakham Shemuel Yerushalmi, the latter two of whom were emissaries (Heb. shadarim) from Jerusalem. Following elementary school, he studied in Mullāh Yeḥezqel’s bet mi…

Majlis (Iran), Jews in

(1,367 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Iran’s first constitution was enacted in 1906 and a Majlis (parliament) was established. The constitution gave the Jewish, Armenian, and Zoroastrian religious minorities civil rights almost equal to those of Muslims.Each of the minority groups was given the right to elect a representative to the Majlis. Under the 1906 constitution, a Jew could only be elected to parliament as a representative of the Jewish community. They voted in elections to the Majlis as members of an ethnic group and not as individuals. There was, however, a slate of ca…

Haïm, Shemu’el

(476 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Popularly known as "Mister Haïm" or "Monsieur Haïm," Shemu'el Haim was a modernist communal leader of Iranian Jewry at the beginning of the twentieth century. He was also a journalist, a Zionist, and a member of the Majlis, the Iranian parliament. Shemu'el Haïm was born in Kirmanshah in 1891 and was educated in the school of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, where he acquired a thorough command of English and French. In 1914 Haïm entered the customs service in Kirmanshah. While working there he became a political consultant to the British embassy, but his connec…

He-Halutz

(1,169 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche | Orly R. Rahimiyan
1. Egypt Starting in the 1930s, a number of organizations calling themselves He-Halutz ( he-ḥaluṣ, The Pioneer) appeared in Egypt. The first was established during the summer of 1933 in Cairo and served as a Zionist training center (Heb. hakhshara). It did not offer an ideological educational program and operated for only a few months before disbanding. In 1934, Moshe Ben-Asher, a local Zionist activist, established a branch of the global He-Halutz organization in Alexandria. Most of those who joined the hakhshara saw immigration to Palestine as the solution to their economi…
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