Jewish Journal

Etta Israel continues support of L.A.‘s Iranian Jews with special needs

by Karmel Melamed

December 11, 2010 | 12:05 pm

Last year I had the honor of interviewing Manijeh Nehorai as one of the L.A. Jewish Journal’s annual mensches for her work to support Iranian Jewish children with special needs. Nehorai is a remarkably giving local Iranian Jewish social worker and volunteer of the Etta Israel organization that supports children with special needs and their families with L.A.’s Iranian Jewish community. Nearly two decades ago, at a time when many families in the community with mentally disabled children would hide their special needs children away from the public, Nehorai was brave enough to tackle this taboo and educate these families that there was help available for their children. As in years past, she along with the help of a dozen Iranian Jewish volunteers organizes fundraising events for this important cause that no one in the community has been brave enough to champion.

A few days ago again I had the special opportunity to attend Etta Israel’s Iranian Jewish Capter annual Hanukah fundraising gala event at the Sephardic Temple in West Los Angeles. The gathering raised thousands of dollars to aid in funding the housing and other programs for the organization’s Iranian Jewish clients. While I am not one who is typically big on attending the countless Iranian Jewish community social events and fundraisers in Los Angeles, I always find that this fundraiser has been a pure delight because it is one of those rare events where the community gets together to collectively and unselfishly help others who are less fortunate themselves.

The following are some videos I captured on that evening of Nehorai and the special needs children participating in the program…


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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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