Posts Tagged ‘leaving’

For a while now, my literary choices have been focused on the Middle East. I’ve read many books on many subjects relating to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Recently, I concluded a book called Life As A Visitor by Angella Nazarian.

This book was not just read; it was experienced. Each page gave my eyes the chance to do more than absorb text. The story – of difficulty leaving Iran and acclimating to the U.S. – is told in layers. There is, of course, the story itself. But it’s surrounded by beautifully embellished borders, and interwoven between colorful pages of anecdotes and poems, and bright, telling photographs – many taken by the author herself.

The emotions she expresses are so personal, so relatable, and so pure.It’s not often that I complete a book and think, “I would really like to get to know this author.”

Many stories of leaving Iran are heartbreaking. Abandoning a life that is rewarding and familiar, to find security in an unfamiliar culture is a huge risk. Thank G-d, my family left early enough to avoid the complications, but they still had to endure the challenges of re-acclimating. They still had to leave their home, their property, their comfortable life.

I’m reminded of a moment on my grandparents’ most recent visit to Seattle. My mom turned to my grandmother and told complimented her cooking. “I’m so proud of you,” she said. Proud, why? My grandmother came to America having never cooked before; the family always had full-time help. She had mastered the task of shopping, while Shahin took care of the cooking.

What keeps me coming back for more is the knowledge that after having to leave and readjust, many families did very well for themselves. The Iranian community in the U.S. is one of the most accomplished immigrant groups. They are well educated and influential; they work hard, and have given themselves a good name.

In my eyes, the challenge that lies ahead is for Iranian Jews to integrate better into the larger Jewish community. We are seeing second and third generations in the U.S.; no one should feel like an “other” any longer.


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