Jewish Journal

Lahijani’s story is one that cannot be forgotten

by Karmel Melamed

November 11, 2007 | 10:17 pm

Kaveh Lahijani and his family have been close friends of my family for many years. I’ve known of his friendship with my cousin for a number of years, but was never fully aware of the story behind his father’s mysterious disappearance. This week, my article in the L.A. Jewish Journal takes a closer look at the recent news his family received that Iran’s Islamic government was indeed responsible for his father’s death.

Although the murder of Kaveh’s father, Isaac, was nearly 26 years ago, we in the Jewish community worldwide cannot forget it. This was an innocent man with a successful business, loving family and a bright future—a man who had that all suddenly taken away from him just because he was Jewish. When will the world wake up and realize the true evil that exists among the leaders of Iran’s government? How can anyone in their right mind think that Iran is a great and safe place for Jews to live when the regime has so easily taken the lives of Isaac Lahijani and other innocent Jews in Iran?

We cannot remain silent and forget the crimes against humanity Iran’s fundamentalist Islamic leaders have committed against Jews, Christians, Muslims, Bahais, and others in Iran. Moreover, we cannot permit these same Iranian leaders get their hands on weapons of mass destruction because they will not hesitate to murder other innocent lives as they have done in Iran.

Since Kaveh’s decision to dedicate a Torah in his father’s name to the Chabad in Laguna Beach, California, he has encountered unique incidents where he has felt his father’s presence. The following is an excerpt Kaveh wrote of one of his recent unexplainable but touching events concerning his late father:

“Before we left for the Israel trip, I had a Torah scroll written in honor of my father, Isaac Lahijani, who was kidnapped about 26 years ago in Iran. The scroll was started about a year ago in Israel and was just completed with a ceremony a day before most of us left for Israel on September 9th, around the birthday of my father.

About a week before the completion of the scroll, after 26 years of agonizing search and denial by the Iranian authorities telling my mother to go and come back few weeks from, my mother found out from the Iranian government via a two sentence letter that they indeed have killed my father and that they want to pay restitution for his blood. This is a common practice in Iran, and a way for the government to limit their liability, the price for the restitution is half for anybody that is not Muslim, (Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, etc.) and if a women, then again half. The timing is not a coincidence.

My mother, obviously distressed and depressed arrived in California few days before the September 9th completion ceremony. When my sister, brother and I picked her up at the airport, I asked if she had the letter with her and she said that it was in her suitcase. When we took her home that night, I asked to see the letter and when she went to get it. She realized that she had picked up a wrong suitcase at the airport that looked like hers. I asked her if she thought it was a coincidence that she did not want to accept the news and that she had picked the wrong suitcase, she said “whatever”.

Her attempt to retrieve her suitcase was unsuccessful that night. I wrote the name and number for the wrong suitcase, left a message on the voice mail and realized that the phone number was a Orange County number, where I live with a Wilshire, Los Angeles address, next to my mother’s place. Another coincidence?

The next day I woke up all stressed out, with the ceremony for the Torah Scroll completion pending, getting prepared to go to Israel. I was finishing my business obligations in California before leaving, finding out about my father’s faith after all this time in such a way and trying to deal with it and digest it while all was going on. There were many other things on my mind and on my plate.

Then I remembered what my father used to tell me: “whenever you get stressed out, the best thing you can do is to exercise”. With this thought I left my home to walk to the gym which is a five minute walk away. While walking on the street, I felt something kissing me on my right arm, it was a small wood chip. When I looked up I saw a squirrel in the tree eating a pine nut and a part of the shell had softly glided and landed on my right arm. I thought it was strange and continued with my walk.

When I arrived at the gym, my cell phone rang and it was the lady whom my mother had accidentally taken her suitcase, we talked and it came to a point where she informed that she had attended the Kabala of Orange County and was introduced to it by my good friend, Roberto, who has the same birthday as my father. Another coincidence?

That afternoon I went to visit my mother again and to calm her down with all that was happening. When I arrived I asked if she had found her suitcase, she said yes, I asked if I could see the letter from the Iranian government. While I was looking at the letter she handed me a bag and said “this is a gift I bought you from Iran”. When I opened the bag there was a bubble wrapped gift inside I opened part of the bubble wrap. It was a very nice dish made from silver in shape of a leaf. Then my mother said: “no open the whole thing it has a very cute handle”, I opened it all the way and the handle was a squirrel eating a pine nut. I cried. Then asked if the letter was in the same suitcase with the gift. My mother said yes and why do you ask? Another coincidence?

When I told my mother what had happened that morning with my experience with the squirrel in the pine tree, she said that she had bought me another silver gift, but that the person that had sold her called her claiming that he had made a miscalculation in the weight of the silver and that he wanted more money. So she had taken that gift back and bought this silver leaf with the squirrel and the pine nut handle from someone else instead. Another coincidence?

Now (in Israel) when my Bus 11 was traveling to Safat, we stopped at Rabbi Youssi’s grave. Rabbi Youssi was one of the students of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi, the author of Zohar, and he was a great commentator and revealer of the secrets of the Zohar.

On the way Eliyahu (a friend) was explaining to us as we approached the pine forest the amazing miracle associated with Rabbi Youssi when he had died. At his death, his 5-year-old son kept crying and with his tears the gates of heaven opened up. When he kissed his father’s lips, Rabbi Youssi came back to life and lived for another 22 years. If you remember, the place was surrounded by pine trees! And out of Rabbi Youssi’s grave itself today is a large pine tree that had grown! I cried and cried. This was and is an amazing miracle that the site that we visited together that had the father and son connection and death and rebirth, was the one with all the pine trees.

Like I said I do not think we were on the same bus by accident. Time and a bit of divine inspiration will reveal the truth and the true reason.”

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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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