Jewish Journal

Haji Hayim sounds off on the extravagant Persian weddings

by Karmel Melamed

December 4, 2007 | 1:06 am

Haji Hayim, a.k.a. Eman Esmailzadeh , is the brainchild behind Persianrabbi.com , a website dedicated to connecting young Iranian Jews worldwide with religious leaders and their Jewish identity. The 24-year-old Esmailzadeh is a Brentwood resident and perhaps one of my biggest fans has regularly posted many of my articles on his site. To my surprise, my recent article in the L.A. Jewish Journal regarding the extravagant spending by local Iranian Jews on their weddings, had inspired Esmailzadeh to sound off about the subject in his own op/ed piece online. One particular aspect of his story that caught my eye was the fact that many of the lavish weddings in the Iranian Jewish community are causing divisions among friends and relatives. He writes:

“The saddest of them all was when, I had to console a newly married friend who felt that he had just made at least 20 enemies, all because some of his selfish guests were bothered about where they sat, or some distant family were offended that they didn’t get an invitation. And the story goes on, since we want to be accepted in the community, we try harder and harder to cater to the guests’ selfish drive and make sure it the most upscale, exciting and enjoyable wedding that they have ever attended.”

From the responses I’ve seen online to his story and my own piece about the outrageous spending that local Iranian Jews have undertaken has been overwhelming. I honestly had no idea the story would have such wide appeal and I’m pleased to see it has created a new avenue for young Jews in our community to address this issue. In too many occasions Iranian Jewry have had a tendency to sweep certain sensitive issues under the rug and not discuss them. This unfortunately habit has lead to social obstacles in our community to remain unresolved with both parents and their children feeling frustrated about issues concerning marriage, careers, pre-martial sexual relations, and even child bearing!

I am however optimistic that young Iranian Jews like Esmailzadeh are now engaging one another in a serious dialogue about their weddings and bridging the cultural differences they have with their parents. The younger generation of Iranian American Jews is quietly awakening their parents to the reality that they no longer live in Iran and cannot for logistic or financial reasons continue the social norms of that country. While Iranians in general are known for their extremely warm hospitality to even the most distant of friends and relatives…we have to draw the line some where. When the older generation appreciates this reality, then perhaps they may ease their pressures on their children and spend less on weddings and other parties.

Only with open dialogue can real change and growth in our community blossom. I urge young folks in our community to continue voicing their concerns on THIS BLOG!

(Good Iranian Jewish young man Eman Esmailzadeh praying)

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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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