Jewish Journal

Chadorchi and other Iranian Jews are giving back to the community

by Karmel Melamed

August 7, 2007 | 12:41 am

For the past 20 years or so Iranians and Iranian Jews living in Southern California have been seen in our society as affluent, very well educated and even at times snobbish for remaining in their own enclaves of Beverly Hills and Encino. While covering the Iranian Jewish community, I have come across many Americans who have asked me why the Iranians have not embraced the greater community and still move within their own circles. I’ve read articles in the L.A. Times about the grand “Persian palaces” being built on small residential lots in Beverly Hills and the Iranians being big show offs with their money. The reasons why Iranians and Iranian Jews may have not been as active in the greater community are countless and I haven’t a clue why Iranians or anyone else shows off. But I as a journalist I am witnessing an incredible emergence of the younger Iranian Jews who also see themselves as Americans and are beginning to give back to the larger community here in L.A.

The work of Beverly Hills resident Jennifer Chadorchi is perhaps one of the best examples of younger Iranian Jews getting involved firsthand with grassroots non-profit work. I covered Chadorchi last year as one of the Jewish Journal’s “mensches” for her work on behalf of the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition in organizing a small army of volunteers (many of whom are local young Iranian Jewish professionals) to help feed the homeless in West Hollywood. Her enthusiasm for aiding the homeless has become contagious and motivated her volunteers to form their own volunteer groups in feeding the homeless. Chadorchi also spearheaded “Project Feed”, a campaign allowing Beverly Hills school district students to donate food and time to the coalition in exchange for school credit. Her unselfish work for this important cause is a symbol of how Iranian Jews are now beginning to give back and also advancing Tikkun Olam.

Recently, Reza Moosavi, a local Iranian Muslim filmmaker completed a short film called Guardians of Hope about the homeless in Los Angeles. This emotional film highlights the problems of homelessness in L.A. as well as the efforts of Chadorchi and other groups that have responded to the plight of the homeless.

So while some may think Iranian Jews are riding their fancy BMWs and living high in Beverly Hills, this close-knit community is now making a difference. Not only are Iranian Jews increasingly donating their money to important Jewish and non-Jewish causes, but more importantly they are volunteering their time and energy to movements in the city that are making a change for the betterment of our society.

Those interested in getting involved with Chadorchi’s efforts are asked to call:310-288-0090

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Karmel Melamed is an internationally-published freelance journalist based in Southern California.

Since 2000, Melamed has specialized in covering the growing influential...

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