Jewish Journal

Photo essay: Eretz-SIAMAK celebrates Purim in the Iranian American way!

by Karmel Melamed

March 17, 2008 | 1:07 am

There were live animals in a petty zoo, a pony for little kids to ride, face painting, costume contests, carnival games, older Iranian Jewish men playing backgammon, with the scent of chicken and beef kebab in the air, ...a true mix of the Iranian and American Jewish traditions of celebrating Purim at the Eretz-SIAMAK Cultural Center in Tarzana on March 16th. More than 500 children and parents crowded the large parking lot of the center which was transformed into a Purim Carnival for Iranian, Russian, and Israeli Jews from the San Fernando Valley. “We’re very pleased with the large turn-out of people from the community and glad to see they are enjoying Purim with their kids and grandkids,” said Asher Aramnia, director of events for the Eretz-SIAMAK Cultural Center. It really was a celebration of Purim with both cultural influences at the same time, something I’ve never seen before. A good part of funding for the carnival was also provided by the Neria Yomtoubian Foundation, that collaborates with the Center on many projects.

What impressed me about the Purim event at Eretz-SIAMAK was the substantial turn out of Jews of various backgrounds bringing their children to one place to celebrate Judaism. It’s really great to see members of the Iranian Jewish community here in Los Angeles opening up and welcoming other Jews to their events and gatherings. Some Iranian Jews in the city have been very tight knitt and deciding not to mix with other Jewish groups for whatever reason. Not so long ago the Eretz center did not have many young families or children attending any events and the synagogue primarly brought together older Iranian Jews. Yet things have really turn around since the Neria Yomtoubian Foundation helped fund a program to bring a new youth leader from Israel to promote and develop new programs for the younger generation and their parents.

(Even Eretz-SIAMAK’s founder, Dariush Fakheri gets his face painted with an Israeli flag!)

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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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