12 March 2009

Los Angeles: Persian Shabbat at VBS, March 27-28

Back in 1989 or 1990, I organized a Persian Shabbat at our synagogue, Valley Beth Shalom, in Encino.

The sanctuary was filled to capacity on Friday night. The program, presented with the participation of Rabbi Harold Schulweis, included Persian poetry and Persian musicians (motrebi, who often sing at lifecycle events - a fixture of life in Iran and in Los Angeles). The guest cantor was our cousin, the late Aziz Dardashti, hazzan at one of the Persian synagogues in the Valley. The post-service Oneg Shabbat included Persian dancing.

I have just learned that March 27-28 is another Persian Shabbat, focusing on Esther's Children - a term for the Jews of Iran - with Scholars-in-Residence Dr. Homa Sarsahar, founder and director of the Center for Iranian Jewish Oral History (CIJOH), and Dr. Houman Sarshar, editor of the excellent book Esther's Children (farzandan-e-esther) and CIJOH director of publications.

The event includes an early Persian-Mizrahi Friday night shabbat service, followed by a Shabbat dinner ("A Night in Shushan," paid reservations required).

At 8pm, "The Heroes of Culture" takes place: How Iranian Jews saved Persian classical and popular music. An Oneg Shabbat with Persian music follows at 9pm.

On Saturday morning, a Persian-Mizrahi service begins at 8.45am, followed by a Shabbat Shiur (study session) focusing on "Esther’s Children: A Portrait of Iranian Jews from the Achaemenid (2500 BCE) to the Islamic Republic Period of Today."

I'm not sure if this has been done every year or not since that first event so long ago. It's just nice to know that 20 years later, there's another one scheduled!

If you are in the Los Angeles area, consider attending. There's more information on the VBS site.

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