Jewish Journal

Iranian Jews in L.A. using silk flowers to promote charity

by Karmel Melamed

October 9, 2007 | 12:11 pm

Mayan Kheset is a group of four or five Iranian Jewish volunteers based in the San Fernando Valley here in Southern California who are trying to change how the local Iranian Jewish community celebrates their weddings and other happy occasions. Four years ago, 37-year old Hirbod Cohentoe, a Woodland Hills pharmacist and the group’s founder said he noticed members of the community spending significant amounts of money on flower arrangements for their weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other events. For this reason he organized his group to provide silk flower centerpieces in lieu of real flowers and his group’s fees would all be donated to Jewish charities. “We encourage people to try to support a wedding of an orphan in Israel,” said Cohentoe. “We encourage couples not make their weddings so fancy but to donate some of the money to Israel or their favorite Jewish charity.”

For nearly four years, Mayan Kheset’s volunteers have dropped off and picked up different sets of artificial flowers at parties held in various locations in the Los Angeles area. Cohentoe says he and his few friends sacrifice their weekends and stay up late to pick up the flowers in hopes of creating a new trend of giving charity during times of celebration within the community. During the last few years, a growing number of weddings and other events have grown into large and expensive extravaganzas among L.A.‘s Iranian Jews. Cohentoe said that while his organization does not have a set minimum amount for what people can donate in exchange for using the silk flowers, he would like to see more people volunteering with his group.

Those interested in contacting Mayan Kheset can contact them through their website: http://262626.org/

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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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