Iranian Jewish Community Rejects Aliyah Incentive


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iran jews.jpgThe Society of Iranian Jews and community leaders irately rejected an offer by the Jewish Agency and wealthy Iranian ex- patriots to make aliyah in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars per family, in addition to regular immigrant benefits. The Iranian media published remarks by Jewish parliamentarian Morris Motamed and Siamak Sedek, chairman of the Teheran Jewish Association, saying, “Iranian Jews are among the most ancient Iranians and their identity is not a commodity. We love the Iranian culture and immature enticements cannot undermine this. We won’t trade our citizenship for any amount of money.”

Iranian Jews have always been permitted to emigrate, but 70 percent of all emigrants over the years preferred the US to Israel. Even the Jews who do decide to move to Israel are few in number and now they will be subject to unnecessary pressure to prove their loyalty.

Recently efforts have been stepped up to encourage Iranian Jews, who live under a fundamentalist regime, to make aliyah. The unique offer was conveyed through special broadcasts in Persian and through various organizations and relatives of Iranian Jews.

Dr. Solly Shahuar of the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Haifa University, says there are 20,000- 25,000 Jews still living in Iran, which has the largest Jewish community of any Arab state. Most live in Teheran, but there is also a sizable community in Shiraz and other cities such as Esfahan and Madan. According to reports many Jews are economically established and free to keep mitzvas and provide their children a Jewish education. They have token representation in the Iranian parliament (the Majlas). Sometimes Iranian Jews even visit relatives in Israel and Israelis and Americans from Iran go back to Iran to visit and on business.

According to Dr. Shahuar, one of the main reasons for the decrease in immigration from Iran is financial uncertainty. Despite the anti-Israeli declarations issued on a regular basis by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian government’s official stance is not anti-Jewish. Still, Iranian Jews are aware they are second-class citizens like other minorities and are even persecuted by defense organizations, which view them as a potential threat.

(Dei’ah veDibur)

(Film screenshot from “Jews of Iran” by Ramin Farahani, 2004, showing praying family in Abrishami synogogue in Tehran, the day before Jewish new year in 2002.)


  1. I am pretty sure if parliamentarian Morris Motamed and Siamak Sedek were off the book, they would encourage Jews to leave. But, as someone who lived in Tehran for 2/3 of my life, they said the right thing in front camera and media.

  2. It is unsurprising that Iranian Jewry is reluctant to move from an extreme religious fundamentalist society in Iran to an extreme secular fundamentalist society in Israel.

  3. I have to say that I am confused. I had an Iranian roommate in Yeshiva, and he used to tell me horrible stories about Iran’s treatment of the Jews. He had to escape by being smuggled out. Can someone please clearify?

  4. I can just hear them now: “25,000 Iranian Jews have been brainwashed by Neturei Karta and Moishe Arye Friedman! We have to do something about this! We don’t want them killed when the Zionists drop a nuclear bomb on Tehran!”
    Speaking of dhimmis, how is it that Shazam knows something that 25,000 Jews don’t know? Does he know anything about Islam? Does he know that dhimmi status required Jews to pay the kisya tax in order to be exempt from military service? Zionists are so uneducated about history. It’s pathetic…….

  5. Ironically Christian societies have treated us far worse and more violently than the Iranians ever had.

    Perhaps the Iranians are afraid the zionists will attempt on them what they did to the Yemeni Yidden (forcibly cut off their payos and kidnap their children.)

  6. Is it me or do you have the same culprits having the same arguments and bickering on this site, just on different topics? Seriously people, find something more productive and healthy to spend your time and energy with.


  7. The Iranian Jews are right, my friends. We all know, “Az mir nemt gelt, iz mir mishubed.”
    I would be skeptical of an organization offering so much money to convince them to move. If the organization can’t convince them on the merit of ‘freedom & liberty’ by itself, then the offer of money would seem to indicate that they have some sort of agenda. (Like yaldei Tayymon perhaps?)
    The Iranian Jews said it right, “[their] identity is not a commodity.”

  8. Unlike the zionist ym’s, who kidnapped their children to shmad them (after forcibly cutting off their payos), no one forced the Yeminites who escaped tjhe zionists from maintaining their 3,000 year-old traditions in Williamsburgh.

    They wanted to come there, stay there, and freely practice their traditions in a free society.

  9. Dovdov: you don’t know me, nor my knowledge of Islam. And you apparently don’t have a knack for sarcasm. Reread my post carefully.

    And, since one is mechuyav to be mocha a motzi shem ra, let me categorically state: I am not a Zionist. Notwithstanding I’ve helped put several hundred million dollars into the State of Israel’s coffers, but that was a function of my line of work, not my politics.

  10. “The other great culture shock for the Yemenite community was taking their Rabbanim and forcing them to wear hamburgs and frock coats because if they wanted to look religious they had to look European.”

    Interesting. I’ve never seen this with the Teimani families in the USA. I wonder if the families themselves wished to feel better integrated by changing their dress, if indeed there is factual basis for this assertion.

  11. bizrizut and moshe fox:you cant be more correct in youre comments. i already made a request of the editor to censor all of these foolish and sinas chinamdike remarks, but to no avail. this is not the way a jewish website is supposed to look like.

    Editors Note: Exactly right. So until you change your screen name to something respectable, your comments will not be approved.

  12. Did anyone bother reading the post? This is all quoted by the Iranian media. Family members are kept hostage and under government surveillance when any member of the family leaves to Israel. The freedom of speech is nil, and freedom of religion has been diminishing every year. Stop dreaming and just propagandizing pure nonsense.

  13. I dont think all the Yemenites and Iranians are dressing like Eroupiens because they are forced.
    I just did a weeks job in crown heights for some yemenites. apperently there are thousands of Persian and Yemenite Lubavitchers who dress like chasiddim and even talk yiddish, but I dont think anyone forced them…
    I have also met some in satmar etc..

  14. Devorah,

    I’m not knowledgeable enough to determine if the Tamani presence is large here, but those I have seen look distinctively Tamani.

    However…perhaps there are many who have indeed changed their outward appearance, and are undistinguishable from their surrounding environment.

  15. you’re all wrong:

    the iranian jews will not go to israel, they will all go to great neck and beverly hills!!!

    by the way: the vast majority of iranian jews in iran are, unfortunately, not shomrei torah u’mitzvot. a few who tried, were imprisoned a few years ago by the govt (the 13) and almost killed (due to the negligence of agudah, who didnt use proper “discretion” in their communications with them, but the yw editor will delete this parentheses, as he does all mention of agudah)