Jewish Journal

Young Iranian Jewish women show courage on Yom Kippur

by Karmel Melamed

September 23, 2007 | 3:48 pm

Nearly three dozen young professional Iranian Jewish women took to the bimah at the Nessah synagogue in Beverly Hills in front of several hundred young professionals this Yom Kippur in what I believe was an incredible show of courage and strength on their part. Nessah’s Associate Rabbi Hillel Benchimol invited the young women in the congregation seeking to get married to join him on the stage to receive a prayer so that they may meet their soulmates in the coming year. The curtains for the Torah ark were opened wide and the rabbi blessed the crowd of young women who received a loud applause from the entire congregation.

After having visited two other Iranian synagogues in the Los Angeles area on Yom Kippur, I had the unique opportunity to witness this scene unfolding at Nessah which put forth a remarkable statement by young women in our community. For the first in a long time young Iranian Jewish professional symbolically showed the community that while they were educated and independent, they were also interested in settling down and get married. Due to cultural norms or taboos which have long called for young Iranian Jewish women to remain quiet on the sidelines and wait till men approach them, young women in the community have not typically put themselves out there specifically seeking marriage but rather attended events to be seen by potential suitors. For this reason, the gathering at Nessah’s bimah was a brave bold move by these young Iranian Jewish women who showed personal initiative in seeking their spouses. In my assessment their appearance on the bimah also sent a powerful message to young Iranian Jewish men in the community to take notice of this generation of young women who are strong yet family oriented and seeking to start new Jewish families. These young Jewish ladies are no longer willing to stand on the sidelines and wait for their spouses to find them, but they are now perhaps actively seeking their soulmates.

This specific move at Nessah was so powerful that it has already reverberated in the community. I have since several phone calls from folks talking about the courage of these young women and from folks who are praising them. So I tip my hat to these young Iranian Jewish women and encourage them not to give up their searches for the right man. You go get’em ladies!

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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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