Posted by Karmel Melamed
He is the never ending musician, a perfectionist, the quintessential showman and entertainer with perhaps two of the most sought after musical bands in Southern California’s Iranian American community today. Alen Nazarian, popularly known to fans by his stage name of “Alen G.”, burst on the scene in 2007 with his creation of the “Kasha Ensemble Orchestra”, a 12-piece live cover band complete with singers and professionally trained musicians entertaining international weddings. The high quality of sound, wide selection of music and high energy his band brought to local Iranian community weddings and private parties quickly spread like wildfire and by the end of their first year, the Kasha Ensemble Orchestra had played at nearly 50 events. By the end of 2008, his band had performed at nearly 60 private events to rave reviews and a higher demand for more appearances from couples getting. To meet the demands of his clients, shortly thereafter Alen G. formed his second band, “Vibe” a smaller group of musicians and singers offering the same high quality of entertainment.
The 38-year-old self-taught and highly motivated Iranian-Armenian musical director credits his bands success to sticking with his perfect recipe of bringing high quality “live orchestral concert style” music to private events and weddings. While other bands have since attempted to imitate both of Alen G.’s bands with their own groups, none have quite seemed to achieve the huge following, steadfast loyalty, endless praise of married couples and immense success of the Kasha Ensemble Orchestra and the Vibe bands. With their weekend calendars nearly booked for the entire year, Alen G. continues to the raise the bar for entertaining his clients and their guests with each performance of his bands.
In preparation of my latest article regarding new trends in Iranian Jewish weddings, I recently caught up with Alen G. right before one of his band’s performances to learn more about the secret to his bands’ successes. While he is not related to the well-known Iranian Jewish Nazarian family, Alen G. and his bands are well known for giving back by performing for free to a wide array of both Jewish and non-Jewish philanthropic fundraising events. In between rehearsals and prep for the event, Alen G. opened up to me about his work and some of his own interesting insights about what can make or break weddings. The following is a portion of our conversation….
How did you first get involved with music?
I first started playing piano when I was six years old and truly loved it. By the time I was nine years old I played at a wedding and everyone really enjoyed it. From that time on I decided I wanted to work in music for my career. In 1986 I immigrated to France from Iran and shortly thereafter I began working as a keyboardist in concerts for famous Persian artists. In a concert setting there is no room for error because it’s live and there’s an audience setting in front of you.
So what inspired you to start your own bands and what makes your bands so special?
In 2007 I had the idea of creating a concert orchestra for private parties. We didn’t know if it was going to work because there is really no time for stopping for breaks during a wedding or private event. After our first week of performing, we booked nine weddings and by the end of the first year we had done almost 50 events. Then the demand was so high for a specialized wedding orchestra that in March 2008 I started the ten-piece “Vibe” band which has become the alternative to the ‘Kasha Ensemble”. It has a very similar deep orchestra sound that is designed for a concert. The musicians in both bands are professionals in the industry with their own music projects and performing live in concerts worldwide. Many of the musicians in our two bands perform with famous singers like Yani and Andre Bochelli. In both of our bands all of the musicians can read sheet music and we do rehearsals before each event to make sure we are at the top of our game. This is something not a lot of live bands will do before a wedding or private party. I also provide couples with CDs of 150 songs we can play and ask them to pick 40 songs that they must have at their wedding. Then from there, we will handle the rest because we get an idea of what type of music they love. What I tell my clients is when you hire us, ‘just sit down in first class and enjoy the ride!’
Can you share with our readers some tips you typically give couples who are looking for good entertainment for their wedding?
The bride and groom must make a decision whether they want a D.J. or a live band. Budgets determine which they will go with. I tell clients to look for a live band with a vast repertoire of music they perform— like our bands can play more than 160 different songs. I also recommend that couples go hear the band they are planning on hiring to make sure the musicians play each instrument. You should also make sure your band interacts with the crowd on the dance floor well and asks the guests ‘are you have a good time?’ A good band will keep the energy of the party going. Also the bars need to be situated as close to the music as possible, that way there is more energy from the crowd and they have a more fun experience. In addition a good band will make sure there is proper accompaniment of the music they play with the vocals.
Your bands perform at a lot of Iranian American weddings and events. What are some of the more challenging aspects of working with these types of clients?
Persian-American weddings can be challenging because we want both sides of the family to have a good time. Also there are different generations of people, some that want Persian music and some that want top 40 American music. So a good band will balance the type of music well. I think the audience speaks to the band with their reaction to the band and reading a crowd is the single most important thing the band or musical director can do. A good band should know within the first 20 minutes of the event what type of crowd this will be and how to keep their energy level up.
You mentioned many of your clients are Southern California Iranian Jews, why are they so attracted to live musical performances for their events?
L.A.’s Persian Jewish community is very well in tuned with music. You will find that at least two musical instruments are played in their homes and their kids have music classes. So music is a very big part of their culture and lifestyle. This why they demand the best and we have thankfully been successful because our two bands have performed at very high levels to please our clients.
Do you only do private events or do also do live concerts for the public?
We are exclusively a cover band and do private events, but during the year we also perform at some charity fundraising events without any pay such as Hadassah, Etta Israel, HDC or the Park West Nursing Home where we play holiday music for the older people living there. We want to give back to the community that has given us so many weddings and parties to perform at.
4.29.13 at 7:52 pm | Another member of the local Iranian community has. . .
4.1.13 at 6:26 am | "Shahs of Sunset" producer and other media ignore. . .
3.31.13 at 11:16 am | San Francisco based non-profit video interviews. . .
3.29.13 at 12:02 pm | Photos captured of various No Rooz celebrations. . .
3.15.13 at 10:38 am | Couples find Judaism is a key to keep their. . .
3.11.13 at 6:13 am | ADL recognizes achievements of Iranian Jewish. . .
10.25.07 at 9:11 pm | (47)
4.29.13 at 7:52 pm | Another member of the local Iranian community has. . . (47)
1.28.08 at 10:30 pm | (39)
July 21, 2012 | 10:26 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
Some of Southern California’s Iranian American couples are increasingly turning to professionals in their own community to help with their wedding party arrangements. Perhaps one of the most popular photographers and videographers the community has turned to is Vahik Rostamian— the Iranian-Armenian owner of “Vahik Photography” in Glendale. Known to his clientele as “Vahik”, the soft-spoken, humble and easy going photographer shared with me some insights into his work with Iranian Jewish weddings for my recent article.
A professional through and through, Vahik’s studio is filled with photographs and photo albums of countless satisfied married couples— including 60 percent of whom hail from the local Iranian Jewish community. The modest artist, Vahik will not boast about his success, but one can see why he has been so popular by looking at his samples of work and the long list of very pleased clients that have been referring business to him regularly for the last 20 years. Here is a portion of my conversation with Vahik…
So can you tell us about how you first got involved with photography?
I have a little more than 20 years experience and first started with printing in Iran. I liked photography first as a hobby for many years and eventually got into it as a profession. I worked for myself in Iran and then when I worked here in the U.S. for others before starting my own studio. I really don’t look at my work as a business per say because I really enjoy what I do for a living. This work is really my passion. My field of education was in engineering in the oil and gas industry, which really has nothing to do with photography. But since I enjoyed photography so much as a hobby, I pursued it for work and thank god I’ve been very successful.
From what I understanding photographing people at weddings or high end events can be stressful with different personalities that can difficult. How do you handle the stress?
When I’m going to shoot an event, I prepare myself for that event or wedding so as to be in the right mindset. Therefore I don’t really have any difficulties shooting that day. I always get to the venue on-time or ahead of schedule to make sure I don’t have any stress before shooting. At the same time, I try to make an effort to reduce the stress level for the couple getting married that day or for the family members so together we can accomplish something great with the photos. I don’t claim to be some sort of amazing photographer but I make every effort when I can to bring others being photographed at ease so. When the couple is not relaxed they are only upsetting themselves. When they are more relaxed, the photos end up coming out great. I tell them to be at ease and not think about anything while they we are shooting. This is a day that you want to be memorable, so that you can share great memories with your kids and grandkids about that day.
What do you advise couples to look at when they are choosing a photographer for their wedding?
I show couples samples of my work and have them call a number of my satisfied customers, so they can get first hand knowledge of how I work and the caliber of my work. I recommend that couples meet with three or four different photographers to see who they like and if they like their photographer’s personality. You must like your photographer and the photographer must like the customers that he is shooting, otherwise the photos will not come out right.
What kind of things do couples need to be aware of in the quality of photos or albums that they are shown by a photographer?
Couples should realize that there isn’t just one type or one quality of printing for their photos. A photographer should show you different qualities of paper, bindings for the albums or types of printing for the photos. For example, there is inkjet printing that may be cheaper but often does not retain colors of the photos for a long period of time. While on the other hand there is photo-printer printing that this is a higher quality and has the colors lasting longer. Another photographer may not share what type of printing is used for the photos, but I like to share those details with couples so they have an idea of what quality work they will be receiving in their albums. I like to shoot natural photos and don’t like to photo-shop or digitally modify photos after I have shot them. You should also look into the type of lighting, angles for shooting photos as well as audio and high resolution film the videographer is using.
I understand many couples have additional lighting brought in for their weddings. What kind of impact does this lighting offer for the final quality of the photos or video?
Lighting offers you different backgrounds for your video. I do recommend additional lighting to my clients to obtain because the lighting at their venue may not be sufficient to provide a nice clear looking video. A good videographer should set his cameras to their lighting of the room. I prefer lighting that is bright, clear and crisp because it helps your video look nicer and cleaner. Different colors of lighting on the walls may look romantic or nice for that night, but depending on the photographer the different color lighting may not come out as well in the photos or the video. Those videographers or photographers who are professional know how to set lighting properly before shooting. I also advise my clients not to change the lighting in the room too much during their wedding because it affects the quality of video.
What advice do you have for young couples as far as preparing for their photographs to be shot before and during the wedding?
For the engagement photo secession before the wedding, I tell my couples to come relaxed and at ease, to smile and to laugh so the photos come out natural. This photo shoot beforehand also helps you before the day of the wedding because when you have already been in front of the camera it makes you more at ease. I also remind my couples that for their wedding day, ‘this is your day and from the second the day starts until it ends, just enjoy it because you’ve spent a lot of money and you want to make it memorable’.
July 20, 2012 | 8:28 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
For nearly 20 years local Iranian Jewish caterer David Javaheri who is the founder of the Sason and Nana Catering businesses has been delighting his L.A. area Jewish clients with a continuously unique assortment of “kosher fusion” food. I had a special opportunity to taste some of his culinary creations and found that they were not only delectable in taste but remarkably artistic in presentation. Fusion food is basically the mixing and matching of different cultural foods with different spices or seasons to bring about new and exciting dishes. Whether you like Persian, Italian, Mexican, Indian, Asian or good ol’ fashioned American classics, Javaheri’s professionally trained executive chefs will not disappoint your pallet! Through Sason and Nana Catering, Javaheri has mastered the art of fusion food and has been successful in offering it to local Jewish clients who are increasingly demanding new varieties in the kosher foods for their guests at weddings or other parties. (The menus for his catered food are sinfully delicious).
Many of Javaheri’s clients hail from the Iranian Jewish community in Southern California and I recently interviewed him for my latest piece about the latest trends in the foods they are selecting for their weddings. The following is a portion of our conversation…
Can you share with us a little of your background and how you go into the catering business?
In October 1993, the partners of Sason where my father, my current partner and myself. Three months after we opened the business my father passed away. At the time I was 19 years old and going to college at Cal State University Northridge studying psychology. So it took four to five years after I graduated from college to become fully involved in the catering business. One of my biggest advantages of going into this industry has been the fact that I was educated in here in the U.S. and every aspect of catering has been done with education. Every year my staff and I have been going to seminars, catering conference to continuously learn about the latest in design, décor, food handling, and other food preparation from some of the top catering executives chefs in the country. We do this because we want to maintain a high level of service to our customers and be on the cutting edge of the culinary industry. Today we have reached a level that has surpassed our wildest imagination. My goal was to reach a certain level when it comes to our revenue, growth, décor, design, type of foods served— and we have well surpassed that today. What I really love about catering is not just how the food tastes— but the key aspect that the food has to look good and we have to constantly have new designs that come out that appeal to our guests. The most important aspect of catering is not just the food but creating an incredible experience for your client.
What do you recommend to couples when they are looking for a caterer for their wedding?
The first thing I advise my clients is to look at the reputation of the caterer. You should ask around about that caterer’s level of work, level of service and performance in the past from others that have used them for events. Next I recommend my clients check the caterer’s credentials, certifications and records with the health department. If they have a letter ‘B’ or ‘C’ level grade with the health department, then you need to know why. Typically those letters mean that they have an unsupervised kitchen that means you as the host of the event are taking more risks with an executive chef who does not know how to handle food properly. There is a lesser risk of contamination when you have food that comes to the caterer at the right temperature, is kept at a right temperature and is handled properly by the kitchen staff. For example, your caterer can buy the best quality chicken in town and prepare the best chicken kebab, but if get a few drops of the chicken juices get into the lettuce for your salad, then you will likely have salmonella contamination. These days the hotels and cities are getting tougher and requiring caterers to have food handling certification for their staff to prove that the staff knows how to properly handle food. All of these ratings for a caterer are available to the public on the health department’s websites and list what exact violations each caterer may or may not have had. I always ask every single couple who approaches us to attend one or two of our events. I recommend they see us in action and how we do what we do. Every wedding is unique for us and their wedding is different because of the design. We want a long term relationship with their customers and not just to do the catering for your wedding.
Can you share a little more about kosher fusion food?
Sason Catering is probably one of the very few kosher fusion caterers in the Los Angeles area. Since we are kosher, we are therefore limited to type of food we can use. So there are no dairy products that we can use in any of our food, that makes our job tough because you have to improvise and instead of using products like milk and butter, substitute them for other products that are ‘parve’ or dairy-free. Nevertheless we became really really good at it. Fusion food came out about eight or nine years ago and has been very popular especially in L.A. with all the different cultural groups you have living here. For example, you can take make a sauce that has Asian influence and mix it with other types of spices or flavors. So we have a chicken gyro station that is very popular because our chefs infuse Moroccan and Greek spices to the chicken and then we attached it into an Indian tandoori oven. Guests who try this chicken are simply blow away by the different flavors and styles of cooking incorporated together. We also have a barbecue glaze that goes over an Asian Sea Bass that is simply divine because it takes away from the oily nature of Sea Bass.
What is the most challenging aspect of working with the Iranian Jewish community?
About 40 percent of my customers are Persian Jewish and what I really love about the Persian Jewish community is that they really appreciate good food and good design. A Persian event is usually six hours—with six or seven hours with people eating. So food is important. Appetizers are very very important in the Persian event because for us appetizers are like the dinner and the dinner is like appetizers! This because people come hungry and they can visit different stations and have choices. At dinner they take their time and are not as hungry. Despite the fact that Persians negotiate on the pricing, they still want the best and that has been positive for our companies because it pushed us to constantly improve our services on a regular basis.
Does pricing substantially impact the quality of food or level of service you typically receive from your caterer?
If you are negotiating on pricing with a caterer, each caterer is different— couples have to realize that while they may get a lower price for their event, but at the same time that caterer may be cutting down on the quality and design of the food they offering for their wedding. Choosing a caterer properly is key, especially in the summer months for a wedding because that caterer may be doing four of five events in one night and the clients could be taking a risk by hiring a caterer that is too busy and may not be able to provide 100 percent to your event. The bride and groom has to put themselves in their guest shoes to provide less of a risk, because in the end if the caterer screws up and people leave hungry, then the event ends unsuccessful because the guests have not enjoyed themselves.
Can you share with us an instance where things went wrong at an event and you came out on top at the end of the night?
Catering work is always a challenge. There was a plated dinner at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A. and all the ovens suddenly went dead. We had a 700 person event with people that need to be fed. Luckly we were able to cook the food quickly an properly with back up systems we had in place. Your guests don’t know what is going on in the background and only a true caterer knows what to do to prevent a disaster from happening at an event. For example, as a caterer you must always have a back up car or truck to the event. I send our transportation three hours ahead of schedule. A good caterer looks ahead and plans accordingly.
What advice do you give couples who might be stressing about their wedding party?
One of the things I always tell my clients is that you are getting married hopefully only once and you need to enjoy yourselves as much as possible for that night. Once you hire the right coordinator, or caterer, or entertainer, then just walk away and let them do their job. If you’ve made the right choices in picking the right vendors, then your event should flow smoothly and successfully. Remember most vendors have done more weddings than you have and know what works and what doesn’t work— so trust in them.
Individuals seeking to taste Javaheri’s delicious dairy dishes can also visit his glatt kosher restaurant Nana Cafe in the Pico-Robertson area.
July 17, 2012 | 10:00 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
In Tehran last month, during a ceremony marking the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Iran’s current vice president, Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, launched an anti-Semitic tirade.
I am fluent in Farsi and understood 100 percent of what he said from watching his speech online. Rahimi blamed the spread of drugs on the teachings of the Talmud, claiming that “the Talmud teaches Jews how to destroy non-Jews and that 80 percent of America’s wealth is in the hands of 6 percent of the world’s Jewish population.” Likewise, he blamed an unnamed Jewish gynecologist in America for once sterilizing 8,000 Native Americans, which he claimed was in accordance with the teachings of Talmud. At the same time, Rahimi went on to blame the Jews for a series of other world calamities, including the long laundry list that can, by and large, be found in the classic 1880s Russian anti-Semitic book “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” (By the way, the Farsi copies of “Protocols” have long been best-sellers in Iran, with more than 400 pages added to the original 1880s Russian version.)
While the international media surprisingly gave substantial coverage to this vile speech made by an Iranian government official, making headlines worldwide, I was frankly not surprised to hear these comments from Rahimi. The truth of the matter is that 99.9 percent of the Iranian regime’s officials make such anti-Semitic comments regularly and believe every single word that comes out of their mouths in public. Yet, what should worry the Western world is the vile anti-Semitic accusations made by supposed “reformists” and “green party” leaders in Iran’s regime against one another or their opponents who also work in the Iranian government. The most classic and detrimental way Iranian government officials can attack one another is to claim that the “such and such official was born a Jew, or was once a Jew who converted to Islam, or his family was Jewish a generation ago and then converted.” The “Jewish identity label” is thrown around as a type of public insult or verbal assault. Officials in Iran and in most Islamic nations use it against one another in smear campaigns. For one Iranian government official to call or accuse another government official of being Jewish is the equivalent of individuals or groups in the United States accusing an elected official in America of being a child molester or pedophile.
The result is that being referred to as “Jewish” has a very derogatory meaning in Iran. Perhaps the best examples of Iranian regime members being publicly “smeared” with the “Jewish identity label” have been Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his senior adviser Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. On a regular basis in Iran, opponents of Ahmadinejad tell the public there’s no doubt Ahmadinejad or his cronies are “bad or foolish” people — because only a “supposed Jew or one of Jewish blood could be so evil in the world.” Another example of this “Jewish identity label” occurred during the 1990s and early 2000s, when Iran’s former president Mohammad Khatami or other “reformists” in the regime regularly accused hated rival officials of having Jewish blood. (My blog piece in 2009 uncovered the bogus story circulating worldwide that Ahmadinejad supposedly had Jewish ancestry.)
This form of anti-Semitism in Iran may seem to most observers in the United States or Europe merely dirty mudslinging that occurs in Iranian politics. Yet just this type of anti-Semitism should raise a red flag to everyone in the free world, because one day, should the current regime in Iran collapse, the supposed “reformists” who spew this type of hate speech today against Jews could potentially use this type of anti-Semitism as an excuse to blame hardliners for Iran’s destruction. At the same time, their comments could directly or indirectly fan some in the Iranian-Muslim population to lash out against the 10,000 to 25,000 Jews still living in Iran. No doubt both “reformists” and “hardliners” in Iran’s regime would not want to accept credit for the failures and heinous crimes against humanity committed by the regime’s current leaders, should the regime collapse one day. So, blaming the Jews for their own failures would be an ideal and classic scapegoat policy for them to pursue.
Finally, the only thing that should surprise anyone about Rahimi’s speech was that he did not attack Israel or Zionism, as most Iranian officials typically do per the regime’s policy. He went out of bounds and clearly attacked Jews and their religion, which reveals the Iranian regime’s true hatred of Jews. The Iranian regime’s propaganda English-language media outlets online quickly retranslated Rahimi’s speech on their sites by replacing his references to Jews with references to Zionists. The regime’s state-run news sites tried to do “media damage control” for Rahimi, but they failed miserably because his comments made in the Persian language can be translated by native Persian-language speakers who know that the words he said were insanely anti-Semitic. The Iranian regime still expects the world to remain stupid enough to believe their bogus propaganda and that they “love the Jews” and have “given freedom to the Jews” living in Iran today.
Karmel Melamed, an attorney, writes the “Iranian American Jews” blog at jewishjournal.com.
July 2, 2012 | 12:08 pm
Posted by Karmel Melamed
Last week I was pleasantly surprised to read an opinion article published in the Los Angeles Times that was authored by Shahrzad Elghanayan, the granddaughter of the late Habib Elghanian who was the Jewish community’s leader that had been executed by the Iranian regime in 1979. Shahrzad Elghanayan’s piece was particularly powerful not just because she reminded readers of the significantly heinous crime Iran’s current regime committed by executing her grandfather on trump up charges of espionage for Israel, but she shed light on the brain drain from Iran during the last 33 years that has caused that nation to continue into a downward spiral. Habib Elghanian was not just your average wealthy industrialist in Iran, he was one of perhaps a dozen proud and very affluent Iranian citizens who helped create entire industries in Iran that employed millions of people and were gradually helping Iran to become self sufficient. More importantly he was a philanthropist who gave back to all Iranians regardless of their religions. In 2009 I had the pleasure of interviewing Elghanian’s brother, family members and friends who recalled this great man’s generosity and love for his country. My piece regarding Elghanian can be read here.
His granddaughter in her beautifully crafted piece expresses the sentiments many young and old Iranian Americans feel in their hearts today about the tragedy that occurred in Iran in 1979. The mass executions, arrests and torturing of business people, intellectuals and Iran’s educated “cream of the crop within the population” in the early years of the revolution have resulted in a mass exodus of millions of Iranians— Jews, Muslims, Bahais, Christians and Zoroastrians from their homeland. Shahrzad Elghanayan proudly names just a handful of the thousands of Iranian Americans who have transformed the business world but from the U.S. and the west. Moreover she correctly makes the point that the nation of Iran could have today benefited from these great minds if the insanely idiotic fundamentalist Islamic leaders in Iran had not destroyed the substantial freedom and relative tolerance people in Iran had enjoyed during the Pahlavi dynasty. The Iranian clerics that run the regime have essentially “flushed down the toilet” Iran’s chances of a better and prosperous future when they carried out their ruthless campaign of terror, persecutions and murders in Iran. And as Iran continues to spiral out of control today with the regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons that can potentially drag the world into a horrendous international war, Iranians living outside that country can only sit on the sidelines and pray others worldwide do not experience the horrific tragedies they experienced at the hands of the Iranian regime’s leaders.
Iranian Jews living in the U.S. will never forget the crime that was committed against our community when the Iranian regime executed the innocent Habib Elghanian. The horror of his sudden murder that caused thousands of Jews to quickly flee Iran, has been tattooed forever in the minds of many Iranian American Jews. Today we will not remain quiet about what the Iranian regime did to Elghanian and we will continue to remind the world of the dangers of this regime that has been ruling Iran with an iron fist for more than three decades! My only hope is that President Obama and the U.S. administration will finally wake up to the reality that they cannot trust nor hammer out a deal to “contain” a nuclear armed Iran. Regime change in Iran carried out only by the people of Iran who must rise up against their totalitarian regime is the only hope for a normal, nuclear weapons free and peaceful Iran. Kudos to Shahrzad Elghanayan for sharing the reality that not only Iranian Jews in the U.S. feel but that most Iranians of various faiths living in the west believe about the failed clerical regime running their former homeland.
July 2, 2012 | 7:12 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
To my delight I recently discovered that UCLA’s Fowler Museum will be exhibiting the “Light and Shadows” exhibit at their facility this fall which will feature the remarkably rich art and history of Iranian Jewry dating back nearly six centuries. This powerful exhibit was originally placed in Israel at Tel Aviv’s Museum of the Jewish People several years ago and received tremendous interest as well as acclaim from scholars and visitors alike. The exhibition was funded by local Iranian American Jewish philanthropists Youness and Soraya Nazarian through their “Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation” and they will likewise be funding the exhibition at the Fowler Museum as well. Their foundation has been heavily involved in founding and funding the university’s Israel Center as well as other Iranian Jewish programs at UCLA in recent years.
In my humble opinion the “Light and Shadows” exhibit coming to the Los Angeles area is indeed an incredible gift both UCLA and the “Y&S Family Foundation” are giving to city residents as well as to Southern California’s Iranian Jewish community which are estimated to be 40,000 strong. This exhibit will most likely give the younger generation of Iranian American Jews who have little knowledge of their history and background a better idea of the persecution their ancestors endured for centuries in Iran while retaining their Jewish identity. Likewise the younger generation can also take pride in the creative and intellectual achievements of their ancestors in Iran.
For more information about this Iranian Jewish art exhibition click here