It seems all the rage to be recording oral histories nowadays. Even the Persian Jews of Beverly Hills are doing it, Kamel Melamed finds in the Jewish Journal of LA:
Mahmomir Cohen, a proud 80-year-old Iranian Jewish grandmother, clutched a notebook that included a Persian love poem she penned for her late husband. Her hands trembled as she recited the hand-written rhyming poem in front of a video camera on Sunday at Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills.
Cohen was among nearly 100 local Iranian Jews participating in Our Legacy Project, an initiative sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Iranian Jewish organization 30 Years After to record the community’s memories of life in Iran, from fond to painful.
Children and grandchildren accompanied many of the elderly participants who quietly entered Nessah’s banquet hall on Dec. 13. After filling out the proper release forms, each participant was taken to one of four cameras set up in different areas around the synagogue.
During the interview, participants were invited to share their life experiences prior to and during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, their interactions with non-Jews living in their former homeland and their journey of exile from Iran.
“I’m here to leave some sort of record for future generations of Iranian Jews living in the U.S. who will likely speak no Farsi and not have any idea of what difficulties we experienced as Jewish minorities living in Iran after the revolution,” said Manucher Cohan, a 65-year-old real estate agent and writer living in Woodland Hills.
Recording oral history is not a new endeavor for the local Iranian Jewish community. In recent years the L.A.-based Center for Iranian Jewish Oral History, with the help of volunteers, conducted more than 100 video and audio interviews with Iranian Jews who had influenced Iran’s history, literature and culture in some way since 1906. In 2002, the group released “Esther’s Children: A Portrait of Iranian Jews,” a colorful book sharing the 2,700-year history of Iranian Jewry along with personal photos from community members.