Posted by Karmel Melamed
Iranian Jewish art curator and architect, Shulamit (Shula) Nazarian made history earlier this month by transforming her Bel Air home into an art salon featuring the art work of six prominent and contemporary Iranian American Jewish artists. During the last 30 years since their migration to the United States, Iranian Jewry for the most part had focused their attention on setting up new roots in their adopted homeland and being able to survive financially. Now that the community has flourished and grown, they have expanded their interests into different areas— including the arts! Recently this new venue enabled artists from the community such as Krista Nassi, David Abir, Mitra Fourozan, Shahram Farshadfar, Soraya Nazarian and Jessica Shokrian to feature their unique array of paintings, sculptures, photographs and multimedia presentations at this new exhibition; “The Persian Jewish Legacy”.
On March 9th Nazarian first opened this unique art exhibition at USC’s Hillel where we caught up with her for this unique interview…
Iranian Jewish artist Mitra Fourozan discusses her art work…
An Iranian Jewish dancer doing a live performance at USC’s Hillel…
Iranian Jewish artist from New York, David Abir sheds light on his work…
Here is our special Persian language interview with Iranian Jewish artist Krista Nassi about her inspiration in creating installation art…
Nassi’s work that on both nights captured the attention of many viewers because of their unique combination of paintings and photographs as well as controversial political/social/ religious themes. My 2006 interview with Nassi featured in the New York based “Forward” newspaper, can be found here. The following are just snapshots of her work….
On an interesting note, Nazarian also featured the art work of her own mother, Soraya, who has been one of the Iranian Jewish community’s long time sculptors and well known philanthropists. Mrs. Soraya Nazarian has gifted a number of her Jewish or family themed sculptures to an array of universities in Israel and elsewhere in the U.S. When we asked Soraya Nazarian about her inspiration she said “both of my parents were very artistic and I have always had a special enjoyment for art so I have pursued it”. The following are some snapshots of Soraya Nazarian’s work….
And other works from the remaining artists….
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April 19, 2010 | 7:26 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
No Ruz is an ancient secular new year celebrated by Iranians of different faiths worldwide to mark the beginning of Spring each year with the giving of gifts of money, dancing and parties held among friends. On March 28 nearly 10,000 Los Angeles area Iranian American of various religions including local Iranian Jews, celebrated the Persian New Year of “No Ruz” on Westwood Boulevard in Westwood Village with the official naming of a street corner as “Persian Square”. Los Angeles City Council member for District 5, Paul Koretz was at hand for the ceremony after he had first introduced a motion in the council recognizing the corner of Westwood Boulevard and Wilkins Street as “Persian Square” earlier this year.
The following are my interviews with Koretz, L.A. City Controller Wendy Gruel and Beverly Hills’ newly installed Iranian Jewish mayor Jimmy Delshad before the No Ruz celebrations:
Other elected officials on hand for the Persian Square gathering included L.A. City Council member Tom LaBonge and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Here is video of Koretz and Yaroslavsky speaking to the crowd:
Interestingly, last month Delshad was installed to serve his second term as mayor of Beverly Hills, a position that rotates yearly among the city council members. The local Iranian American community was able to both celebrate his return to the mayorship of Beverly Hills and the new Persian New Year. Last year Koretz narrowly won his city council seat in a tight election with the wide support of local Iranian Americans in the city who primarily live and work in his district. It seems as if Koretz is showing his appreciation to the community with this goodwill gesture.
Kudos should go out to the Iranian American businessmen in the Westwood area, including the “unofficial Iranian mayor” of Westwood, Alex Helmi, who was instrumental in organizing community support for the “Persian Square” signage and the No Ruz celebration in Westwood. While No Ruz is a secular ancient Persian holiday, I think the real beauty of the holiday comes from the fact that you have Iranian Americans of various faiths celebrating life and their friendship together in a sense of unique harmony! In this world of continuous religious conflicts and strife, do we rarely see these amazing signs of coexistence or tolerance among individuals of different faiths. Therefore Southern California’s Iranian Americans deserve our utmost respect for coming together and showing the rest of the world what it means to be loving human beings.
In addition to the No Ruz event in Westwood, the L.A. City Council honored No Ruz in an official ceremony at City Hall last month and on April 2 several thousand local Iranian Americans celebrated the end of the holiday at a Persian festival held at Balboa Park in Reseda.
Here are some photos I captured last month from the No Ruz celebrations in Westwood:
April 18, 2010 | 11:18 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
No, it wasn’t an April Fools party…and it wasn’t some boring Jewish shindig for young singles to mingle. Hell no! The young Iranian Jews of the Iranian Nessah synagogue know how to party and they rocked the house this past April 1st with their first ever “Kosher For Passover” party a.k.a. “K for P” Party. In one night Nessah Israel Young Professionals (NIYP) transformed their temple’s banquet hall into one of the hippest most rockin’ clubs I have seen in long long time. Light were flashing, people were dancing—and yes even Kosher for Passover vodka and tequilla were enjoyed by some the evening’s guests!
I went behind the scenes of NIYP’s “K for P” party that night and caught up with some of their members who shed light on their motivation for organizing such a large and upscale event for young professional Jews during Passover—when most of us Jews have a hard time finding something decent to eat. Here’s my webcast interview:
Kudos to NIYP’s members for creating a fun, safe and classy venue where young Iranian Jews can mingle while celebrating their Judaism. Do many singles go to these types of events to meet one another? Probably so, but NIYP’s events are not set up specifically for singles but rather for young people in their community to enjoy themselves in a familiar Jewish setting. Leave it up to the creative Iranian American Jews to be able to party and at the same time strengthen their Jewish bonds during Passover of all holidays!