Jewish Journal

Photo Essay: Super Tuesday excites young Iranian Jews to get politically active

by Karmel Melamed

February 6, 2008 | 11:48 pm

Election night energy was vibrant on February 5th when more than 250 young Iranian Jewish professionals gathered at the Brentwood residence of the Iranian Jewish Cohanzad family to mingle and watch the 2008 primary election results. Organizers of the event, “Thirty Years After”, a newly formed non-profit organization, said their objectives were to engage Iranian Jewish professionals in the political process and social activism. “We couldn’t be happier with the turnout, energy and overall enthusiasm that everyone showed at the event,” said Sam Yebri, the 26-year-old head of Thirty Years After. “As a community we showed for the first time that our community can unite and become active on key political issues”.

Prominent local Jewish leaders speaking to the group included California State Assemblymember Michael Feuer (D- West L.A.), Department of Water and Power General Manager H. David Nahai, and Sam Kermanian, Secretary General of the Iranian American Jewish Federation. All three local leaders urged the younger generation of Iranian Jews to run for political offices and consider careers in the public sector.

This particular gathering of young Iranian Jews to help generate political activity is both historic and heartwarming for many individuals in the community due to the long history of Jews in Iran being shut out of the political process. I find it simply remarkable how 80 years ago the majority of Iran’s Jews were living in extreme poverty in their secluded ghettos, but now their children and grandchildren are flourishing economically, socially and now politically in a new country that encourages them to take part in democracy! Indeed 30 years after Iranian Jewry have been able to set new roots in America after the Iranian Revolution, this community is finally discovering that they too can make a greater impact in Southern California and the U.S. by voting and getting involved with our government.

(left to right; Sam Yebri, Eman Esmailzadeh, Michael Yadegaran, California State Assemblymember Michael Feuer, Jonathan Yagoubzadeh, and Rona Ram)

(left to right; Ramin Ram and Ashkan Esmailzadeh)

(The residential venue was packed with standing room only for the young Iranian Jewish professionals)

(“Thirty Years After” president Sam Yebri introduces the evening’s speakers)

(left to right; L.A. DWP President H. David Nahai and Sam Kermanian, Secretary General of the Iranian American Jewish Federation)

(Diana Cohanzad, the evening’s hostess welcomes the group and encourages them to get involved with Israel advocacy)

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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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