Iranian Jews join chorus of condemnation at Qassem Soleimani's assasination

Chief rabbi of 10,000-strong community was among the minority leaders paying a condolence visit to the Soleimani family


A delegation of Iranian Jews led by the country’s chief rabbi was among those paying a condolence visit to the family of Qassem Soleimani.

Representatives of other Iranian minority religions also visited — and made themselves present at this week’s funeral procession.

Rabbi Yehuda Gerami, chief rabbi of the Iranian Jewish community, led a delegation to the Soleimani home in what analysts described as a show of Iranian national unity.

This week, the state-owned Iranian Students News Agency quoted another representative of the country’s Jewish community, Solomon Kohan Sadegh, as saying: “Members of the Jewish community, like the rest of the Iranian society, are present and will stand for the ideals of the Revolution.”

Around 10,000 Jews still live in Iran today, a significant reduction from the over 100,000 who were in the country prior to the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

A report in Deutsche Welle last year shed light on the lifestyle kept by those who remained.

Jews have official minority status and a permanent seat in the country’s parliament. In return, a quotation from the Ayatollah Khomeini shortly after the Shah was overthrown — “We recognise our Jews as separate from those godless Zionists” — appears today in many of Iran’s synagogues.

Congregants are able to keep a kosher diet and run their own butchers. Iranian Jews also observe Shabbat, are permitted to take Saturdays off work and have an exemption to the country’s notorious alcohol ban to allow wine on Friday nights.

But discrimination does exist: Jews cannot take senior positions in important state institutions like the military or police.

It is a delicate balance that helps explain why the Iranian Jewish community issued a statement last week saying “God will avenge the blood of Soleimani”.

Rani Amrani of Israel’s Farsi language station RadioRan, told Israel Hayom that it was “very important that minorities in Iran, especially the Jews” condemned Soleimani’s death so that they were not targeted for being outsiders.

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