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The articles in this issue have been divided upinto the following categories







Mashhadi Jews in New-York

Abridged from Hadassah Magazine

The 4,000 Mashhadi who originated from the city of Mashhad in Iran live now in a New- York suburb like one big family. The older generation still speaks their mother tongue "Farsi". People are more materialistic than they used to be. They are judged by their appearance. The girls these days prefer to marry someone with a profession better than boys who work with their fathers. They maintained their closeness in marrying into the family and they keep kosher.
Worldwide there are 15,000 Mashhadis. The majority, about 10,000 live in Israel.
Most families in Great Neck, get together on Friday evening for Shabbat dinner to keep their tradition. On Shabat, like other Iranian Jews, they still auction off blessings over the Torah to raise funds for Israel.
Mashhhadis have resisted absorption because of their unique history. They trace their ancestors to Iranian Jews who were forced to convert to Islam early in the 19th century.
They became modern- day Crypto- Jews, practising Judaism more than three generations.
Their double life started in 1839 when mobs attacked the Jewish Community in Mashhad, burning down the synagogue, looting homes abducting girls and killing between 30 and 40 people.
Leaders from the Jewish Community agreed that mass conversion was the only way to save the remaining Jews, numbering about 2,400. Nearly all converted to Islam and took on Muslim names. That day became known as the Allahdad (God’s Justice).
The Jews saw it as punishment for their sins.
Some of the Jews escaped to other Iranian Jewish Communities and to Afghanistan.
Those who remained in Mashhad became practising Muslims but secretly they practiced Judaism and kept kosher home.
After nearly a century of living as secret Jews, they began to practice their faith in the open under the rule of the Pahlavi dynasty (1925- 1979).
After World War II, most of them settled in Teheran or in Israel.
Many of them, who settled in the States, worked as jewellers or in carpet business and became very successful.
The commercial district in Great Neck has been reshaped to serve the needs of Mashhadies and other Iranian Jews. They have kosher butchers, grocery stores, restaurants and others to cater to Iranian customs and taste.
Many of the young generation studied in ultra- Orthodox Yeshivas. The more observant group has formed its own congregation, "Shiva Chadasha".
Moshhadis left an impression on those out of their ‘circle’ that they are a very united community.
Another challenge is genetic rather than cultural. The Mashhadis, like other Iranian Jews, are susceptible to genetic disorders because of the high rate of in- marriage in such a small, interrelated community.

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