Jewish Journal

Hanukkah on “Rodeo Drive”: Young Iranian Jews aid worthy causes and party in style!

by Karmel Melamed

December 26, 2009 | 12:13 pm

(left to right; Ronie Ravan, Sara Sarshar, Debbie Farnoush, Miriam Rav-Nov and Rabbi Michy Rav-Noy, photo courtesy of 30YA).

When you think of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, you think of the glitz and glamour of high society and the street which is home to some of the fashion world’s most expensive high-end stores. Well more than 600 local young Iranian Jewish professionals brought that same glamour to Hanukkah on December 3rd when attending a Hanukkah mixer and toy drive for needy children held at the “Cow Jumped Over the Moon” restaurant inside the Rodeo Collection in Beverly Hills. Yes, young Iranian Jewish professionals not only made Hanukkah very “cool” and “stylish” this year, but have gone the extra mile to use their gathering to benefit worthy Jewish causes in town!

More than 800 toy gifts were donated by party attendees and a few thousand dollars in proceeds from this year’s event were given to two local Jewish non-profit groups, “Friendship Circle” and “Chai Lifeline”. Debbie Farnoush, one of the event’s organizers and a member of the 30 Years After (30YA) L.A.-based Iranian Jewish organization, said she was impressed by her community’s generosity during Hanukkah. “The event was needed more than ever especially in the tough economic times since many organizations have been shortchanged and not been able to provide full services,” said Farnoush. “Hopefully these toys and gifts will make a difference to the children and teens that are affected by cancer and genetic disorders and bring a smile to their faces this holiday season”. Other organizers for the Hanukkah mixer included 30YA member Sara Sarshar as well as Ronie Ravan and Alex Levian from the local Iranian Jewish “Lev Foundation”.

I personally believe the Lev Foundation and 30YA deserve kudos for putting together this function because it is yet another beautiful example of how the younger generation of Iranian Jewry have not forgotten their responsibility of giving Tzedakah (charity). Yes many Iranian Jews who fled their turbulent former homeland 30 years ago have today achieved the American dream, yet at the same time they have still held steadfast to their Jewish values which dictate the need to heal the large Jewish community as well as the world. It’s groups like these that are able to make Hanukkah as fun and exciting as the “other” holidays celebrated in North America, so thanks guys!

Two weeks after the event, I caught up with Farnoush and Sarshar who along with other 30YA members were personally wrapping the toys that had been donated. Each gift was hand delivered door to door to needy children during Hanukkah. Both ladies discussed their community’s motivation in organizing the Hanukkah mixer in this interview:

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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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