In a rare interview with the Israeli magazine Katifa, Rebbetzin Tziporah Gerami, the wife of the Chief Rabbi of Tehran, Rav Yehudah Gerami, spoke about the life of Jews in Tehran.
The Rebbetzin said that davka in Islmaic Iran, the right to freedom of religion is respected. “Most if not all of the members of the Jewish community are ma’aminim and are shomer the mesorah – there are almost no kofrim or people who are against religion. But unfortunately, there are people who aren’t knowledgable about religion and we’re trying to change this situation with shiurei Torah and ruchniyus-related activities.”
During the time of the Shah, prior to the Islamic Revolution, there were many Jewish-owned businesses open on Shabbos and many Jews didn’t keep kosher. But since the Revolution, the Jews grew closer to religion and today not one Jewish store is open on Shabbos.
The interviewer asked the Rebbetzin what it’s like to be “an avreich in Iran,” to which she responded that it’s accepted within the community. “Definitely, we have kollel avreichim in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan. My husband gives a shiur iyun in Gemara and shiurim for courses in Rabbanus and dayanus, shiurei halacha and Mishnayos, and Gemara shirurim in bekiyus and iyun.”
Apart from disseminating Torah, Rav Gerami, with the help of his wife, has established an extensive kashrus system throughout the country. There are five kosher restaurants in Tehran as well as restaurants in Shiraz and Isfahan.
The Rebbetzin said that Jewish women generally don’t work outside the home. The concept of daycare or afternoon school programs don’t exist there because the mothers are home to greet the children. She also said that there aren’t official chessed organizations for new mothers but neighbors and friends help each other out.
Something that the community lacks is frum professionals in education and psychology, with the Rebbetzin saying there is a lack of frum people to turn to for advice regarding educational or emotional issues.
There are 60 shuls throughout Iran but since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, most of them are closed.
מועדים לשמחה💐 pic.twitter.com/nlGh2V4QEq
— הרב יהודה גראמי Rabbi Yehuda Gerami (@HaravGerami) September 23, 2021
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)