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A decade after the mass immigration of a large population of Iranian Jews to the United States, and once the early problems of settlement, financial security, and adapting to a new environment were somewhat resolved, some members of the community noticed the lack of written history and documentation on twenty seven centuries of their life in Iran. They also became cognizant of the lack of knowledge and awareness of the society toward their historic and cultural heritage. At this transitional point in history, this group felt a need to shed light on and preserve this rich heritage for the generations to come. They wanted their children to be aware of their identity and roots, and they wanted to provide information on this long forgotten and neglected Iranian branch of Jewish history.
In Farsi

The Graduate Society Foundation Daneshvaran

Esther's Children
About the Book

This magnificent volume makes available for the first time a comprehensive history of the Jews of Iran from their earliest documented settlement in 722 B.C.E. (2 Kings 18:9-19) through to the end of the twentieth century. Lavishly illustrated in full color with more than five hundred images collected from international private and public archives, the 480 pages of this unique book comprise twenty-five articles by distinguished authors and scholars in the field of Judeo-Iranian studies. Six of the articles are historical essays that examine the status of Jews in various periods of Iran's history from the Achaemenid Empire to the advent of the Islamic Republic. Against this historical panorama, the volume presents nineteen other articles focusing on a variety of cultural and sociopolitical subjects pertinent to each historical period. The book ends with a comprehensive bibliography of Judeo-Iranian scholarship that contains over six hundred English, French, German, Hebrew, and Persian books and articles.

To open the pages of Esther's Children is to embark on a journey through time with this ancient family of Jews, starting with their liberation from Babylonian captivity by Cyrus the Great (539 B.C.E.) and ending with their adjustment to life in new lands after the mass exodus from Iran that was the consequence of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. In the informative articles and stunning photographs of monuments, manuscripts, objects, ketubbot, and individual and family portraits that map this extraordinary odyssey, historical and cultural perspectives come together to offer new insights into the heritage and legacy of this people.

Covering a span of topics that range from the influence of Iranian Jews in government, law, and the military to the hardship of centuries of marginalization, persecution, and forced conversions, contributors to the volume examine the tomb of Esther in Hamadan, the life of Prophet Daniel and his tomb, the contribution of Iranian Jews to Jewish theology, law, and thought with the Babylonian Talmud, Judeo-Persian literature, the notion of nejasat (religious impurity), clothing, makeup, and Judeo-Persian dialects, Jewish Persian carpets, and birth, Bar Mitzvah, wedding, and burial customs. The forced conversion of the Jews in Mashhad, the history of the Alliance Israelite Universelle in Iran, the involvement of Iranian Jews in the Zionism movement and their participation in leftist politics, sports, and the role of women in the family are also examined in detail. The book also includes two breathtaking photo-essays: one on the mahallehs (Jewish quarters) and another on synagogues in various towns throughout Iran.

Unique in its scope, Esther's Children sheds new light on the history, culture, and heritage of Iranian Jews, and greatly enhances our understanding of this ancient subculture of world Jewry.

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