Concern for Jews in Iran
As the world ponders a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear installations, three senior students at Boys Town Jerusalem—recent immigrants from Iran—are concerned for the fate of the 20,000-strong Iranian Jewish population. “An Israeli attack on Iran would result in 20,000 hostages,” said Michael, 19, of Yazd. “It’s imperative to consider the safety of Iranian Jews.”
\r\nMichael and his classmates Moshe and David (who requested to keep their full names confidential, to protect relatives remaining in Iran) all immigrated to Israel between 2007 and 2009. “There was a real urgency because of the Iranian Army draft looming over us,” explained David, 20, a native of Rafsanjan. “Until recently, this (like many obligations) could be avoided by payment of a large bribe, but no longer. We also had to pay a top price for the emigration permits, but our parents were determined to give us a better future in Israel.”
Very soon after each young man arrived in Israel, he enrolled in Boys Town Jerusalem. “We could barely speak any Hebrew,” Michael recalled, “and we had little or no background in Jewish studies. But we were quite well received in the school and the dorms, and gradually we began to feel at home. The Persian-speakers on Boys Town’s staff—from rabbis to the guidance counselor to maintenance men—also took special care of us every step of the way.”
Although direct communication with Iran remains challenging (“Facebook is closed, but there are always ways to break in”), the three students stress that the Jews and their Iranian neighbors have coexisted peacefully for centuries. “The Iranians are good people, and we’re pinning our hopes on their ability to replace the present regime,” the students noted. “Times are very difficult in Iran today, with dire poverty, high unemployment, and a worsening situation resulting from the international sanctions. Of course, there’s always the nagging fear that the Iranians will blame the Jews as scapegoats.”
Following graduation, Michael, David and Moshe plan to continue their Jewish studies for a time before enlisting in the Israeli Army. “At Boys Town, we’ve strengthened our commitment to the Jewish State, and we look forward to serving in the IDF and contributing to Israel’s safety. Hopefully our knowledge of the Persian language will be put to good use,” said David.