European Jews, Iranian Jews and Exodus.

 In the darkness of escalading anti-Semitism, so much has been written on why European Jews should leave.

There is comfort in the familiar, even when abusive, even when painful.  It’s near impossible to understand the lure of wishing to stay oppressed.

Yet, Exodus is the story of liberated slaves who continuously nag in nostalgia for their days of old.  For those of us who read the Bible, not as a history book but as spiritual lessons, we note that regardless of how large a miracle, and how close God remains to the freshly freed exploited, they complain and compare their newly found misfortune to the safety of their oppression in the hands of their taskmasters.  Even before the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath rest is gifted to them through their inability to collect Manna, but they rebel.

It is far easier to remove the slave out Egypt than to remove Egypt out of the slave.

Forty years is needed to cleanse the contaminated consciousness, refusing to be freed.  And meanwhile, the poison leaks stubbornly into the youth’s subconscious. 

Persian Jews in the United States are approaching that same forty year mark.  A group named 30 YEARS AFTER was formed in 2007 in order to assist with the necessary transition of the smaller community into the dominant one, not only for its survival but also for its proliferation.

To date, many of our parents’ conversations revolve around the homeland, Iran, what remained there, the memories, the homes and jewelries, odds and ends, and the unrealized aspirations.  We are now witnessing the entrance into the workforce of American-Iranian Jews who left Iran at birth, remembering nothing of the land, as doctors, lawyers, educators, businesspersons, entrepreneurs and important creative forces in the United States.

So many factors affect a population emigration.  Fear of the unknown, financial hardship, leaving behind family and friends, having to learn new customs and languages are but a few, and the older, the more difficult.  Uprooting requires not only courage, but selflessness and a deep desire for better for our children.  Then, there is the tipping point, where there is mass exodus.

As we worry about the future of European Jews, and as we recall the 70th year of the liberation of Auschwitz, the more difficult question remains “Why are Jews still left in Iran?”

Ultimately, those of us who are lucky and privileged, must, in the words or Rumi “Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder…” and become a shepherd to those lost or endangered.