Escape From Iran

Once upon a world ago, Iran was the world center of Jewish life. Known once as Persia, Jewish people first settled following the Babylonian exile. It was in these vast areas where the square-looking Biblical Hebrew letters of today, were formed from the linear shaped Hebrew letters with which the likes of the 10 commandments were written.  Further, it was the Persian King Cyrus who allowed the Jews back to Jerusalem to worship again at the Temple, and it was in Persia where the Talmud, that massive work of Jewish Law was written, codified and ratified by learned rabbinical scholars. It is hard to believe, that this once-friendly nation, is now ruled by an extremist Shiite Muslim antisemitic regime.

Iranian Jewess Aylin Sedighi-Gabbaizadeh was one of the fortunate of the Jewish community who fled Iran in 1990 as a 12-year old with her family. Sorting truth from lies, and acting with extreme prudence, elements of Aylin’s life echo those of the Jewish Persian Queen Esther. 

Right before the Iranian Revolution, Iran became a dangerous place. From the moment the Ayatollah was “crowned king,” a brutal religious regime arose. Terror roamed the streets. Girls and women who lived in fear that their clothing may be judged “immodest,” knew that their survival could be a matter of their skirt being three centimetres too short.  Those who failed the test were never heard of again. Women could be found worthy of execution  simply for looking “wrongly” at one of the revolutionary guards. It wasn’t just women. Poets, lecturers, journalists and free-thinkers also lived in fear for their lives. But it was the Jewish community who were in the greatest of danger. Many well-known Jewish leaders were sentenced to death. A friend of Aylin’s family was taken from her work in the morning and executed the same day. 

Observant Jews, Aylin’s family quickly learned to hide their Judaism behind closed doors. The fear for Jews intensified as the Iranian regime broadcast propaganda, claiming Jews people murder Palestinian children. In turn these very children were praised for their actions against Israel, the “tyrant regime.” 

It was the anti-zionist propaganda – along with her parents – which turned Aylin into an ardent Zionist at such a young age. Her mother and father taught her that the Iranian hateful propaganda was different from reality. Thus, even as a young child, Aylin was able to see that a murder of a Jew in Israel was not just an attack on an individual, but was aimed to destroy the very existence of the Jewish nation. Determining truth from lies was a magnificent mental exercise that put her in good stead for her future career. When she finally came to Israel for the first time in 1997, she got off the plane in Tel Aviv and kissed the ground. In Israel, Alyin had found her homeland. Israel was a land of beauty and peace. The Jewish people had made the desert bloom. Because this was something to write about, Alyin became a journalist. Just like Queen Esther, this modern Jewess also had a sharp moral compass, plenty of bravery and used her gifts to inform the world of the dangers the Jews face in the land which once treasured its Jews.