My Iran: Mem­o­ries, Mys­ter­ies & Myths

  • From the Publisher
May 22, 2014

This is a new edi­tion of Yomtovian’s 2012 mem­oir Leav­ing Iran: A Glimpse into the Per­sian Mind, with addi­tion­al back­ground pro­vid­ed by the author on Iran, its soci­ety, pol­i­tics, and food. This book com­bines detailed mem­oirs of Yomtov­ian, often pre­ced­ed by short his­tor­i­cal and polit­i­cal notes. While read­ers should use the lat­ter as a very basic and per­son­al intro­duc­tion to Iran­ian his­to­ry, the bio­graph­i­cal part is of great val­ue for read­ers inter­est­ed in the life of Iran­ian Jews, their rela­tions with their Mus­lim sur­round­ings, and life fol­low­ing emi­gra­tion from Iran. 

Yomtov­ian was born to a mid­dle-class fam­i­ly in Tehran in 1948 and has lived in the U.S. since 1971. His mem­oir cov­ers his life in Iran, Israel, and the U.S. The book offers live­ly descrip­tions of life with­in and out­side the fam­i­ly, often in dia­logue form. Since Yomtov­ian attend­ed a pub­lic ele­men­tary school in Iran he has much to tell about being one of the few Jews among a Mus­lim major­i­ty. In his teens, he helped his father, a fab­ric mer­chant, to col­lect debts, which brought him in con­tact with a wide range of clients, includ­ing many pros­ti­tutes. He also describes the pow­er of Mus­lim reli­gious author­i­ties on the major­i­ty pop­u­la­tion and their con­tempt of Jews. Of inter­est are Yomtovian’s descrip­tions of trips he took with friends to oth­er parts of Iran, in­cluding his mother’s home­town of Esfa­han. In 1966 his father decid­ed to move the fam­i­ly to Israel, and Yomtov­ian him­self, who orig­i­nal­ly planned to stay in Iran, fol­lowed short­ly after. His fam­i­ly strug­gled in Israel until his father man­aged to some­what improve his eco­nom­ic con­di­tion. The last part of the book describes the author’s life in the U.S. and illus­trates the com­bi­na­tion of his Amer­i­can­iza­tion with the reten­tion of cer­tain Iran­ian traits, such as his atti­tude toward his daugh­ters’ social life. The last chap­ter includes sev­er­al recipes for typ­i­cal Per­sian foods, accom­pa­nied by col­or photo­graphs. The book con­cludes with a very basic bib­li­og­ra­phy and a glos­sary of Ara­bic, Per­sian, and Hebrew terms. (This should be treat­ed with cau­tion: for exam­ple, She­ma Yis­rael” are NOT the first two words of the Torah.) 

Yomtov­ian pro­vides a very per­son­al, de­tailed, and live­ly pic­ture of Jew­ish life in Iran, main­ly in Tehran, from which one can draw much infor­ma­tion on fam­i­ly life, eco­nom­ic con­di­tions, edu­ca­tion, Jew­ish-Mus­lim rela­tions, and the sta­tus of women. 

Bib­li­og­ra­phy, glos­sary, maps, photographs.

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