Last week, I started writing a column about John Sullivan, a former drug and alcohol addict who restarted his life, thanks to Beit T’Shuvah. But then I got interrupted by another great story, in a documentary called “Paul Williams: Still Alive,” directed by my friend Steve Kessler. I wasn’t planning to write about the film — until I saw a packed house at the Nuart on Saturday night give it a standing ovation.
My father-in-law, Yaghoub Shofet, is a Persian Jew who was born and raised in Iran. He is from a rabbinic family. His father, and all his ancestors on his father’s side, were rabbis. His older brother, Chacham Yedidia Shofet, was the Chief Rabbi of Iran during the reign of the shah. Throughout his adult life, my father-in-law was a “loan broker.” He would introduce individuals who needed to borrow money to those who had money to lend, and would make a commission in the process. His clients included Jews and Muslims, both as lenders and as borrowers.
It’s four o’clock in the afternoon, and I’m walking down a busy sidewalk in an upscale neighborhood in Tehran. My mother and her friend have picked me up from school and driven me here without saying what we’re going to do or why we can’t stop at home first so I can change out of my uniform.