On May 17th, the Iranian Jewish Los Angeles reserve Sheriff’s deputy, Shervin Lalezary was honored “30 Years After”, (30YA) an L.A.-based Iranian Jewish community non-profit for his heroism in January of this after arresting an alleged arsonist threatening the city. Overnight, Lalezary, a 30-year-old Iranian Jewish real estate attorney by day, was thrust into the media spotlight and also became a source of tremendous pride for his community. Aside from a brief January appearance on the nationally syndicated “Ellen” show, a very humble Lalezary for the most part has declined repeated requests for news media interviews and publicity regarding his role in the case. I had a rare chance to chat with him that evening for my upcoming article in the Jewish Journal regarding his community’s reaction to his volunteerism on behalf of the Sheriff’s department. Lalezary receives only $1 a year salary for his law enforcement work and shared some insights about his true love of giving back to the larger community. He accepted the honor from 30YA in an effort to promote the Sheriff’s deputy reserve program among local Iranian Americans.
Lalezary represents what is best and accurate about Southern California’s Iranian American Jews contrary to what has been portrayed about the community in recent bogus reality television shows or in news stories about businessmen involved in ponzi schemes. The Iranian Jewish community living in the U.S. is perhaps one of the most educated, hardest working, entrepreneurial and family oriented immigrant groups in the country. After re-establishing themselves in this country they have now turned to giving back in any and all ways possible— and indeed Lalezary is the best example of this spirit among Iranian American Jews. (My blog posting on Lalezary can be found here).
That evening 30YA also honored out going California Assemblyman Mike Feuer for his civic work and support for young Iranian Jews who are getting involved with politics. From the inception of 30YA, Feuer has been a strong supporter of the local Iranian Jews and will be looking to them for support for his upcoming race for L.A. City Attorney. Also on hand were a number of candidates running for California Assembly seats; including Andrew Lachman, Richard Bloom and Betsey Butler who were courting Iranian American voters at the gathering for their support. “As the one candidate from the Jewish community in the 46th, I will make sure that we actually enforce these laws to ensure that no company doing business with Iran sees a penny from the state of California and that we invest in growing jobs here in California,” said Lachman who is running for the Assembly’s newly established 46th district seat.
For their part, 30YA remains the only active Iranian American Jewish organization in L.A. and New York who are motivating their community members to get involved with politics and civic activity. This is indeed refreshing nowadays considering the lack of community leadership from the older generation of Iranian Jews. Here are some photos I captured of the 30YA evening honoring Lalezary and Feuer….