Friday, May 16, 2008

An American Jew in Shiraz

Larry Beinhart from Brooklyn had never considered himself a 'practising' Jew. But as the token Jew in a group of Americans visiting Iran, he was unprepared for the emotions that were to engulf him as the group attended a Jewish service in Shiraz. From Alternet (with thanks: a reader):

"Once again, we entered a walled courtyard.

"It was winter, so the trees were bare. Past their trunks and branches, there was a two-story building. There were large windows along the entire side that faced out toward us. Inside, there was a Jewish service taking place.

"Then a remarkable thing happened to me.

"I was overcome with emotion. If I had been alone, I would have wept. But I was in public, and I'm a guy, and mentally I have my John Belushi shades on, so I don't cry in public. I moved into the shadows while I fought to control the tears that welled up inside, that wanted to pour forth and go wailing down my cheeks. These were my people. Here. Surrounded by these millions of others. My people, willing to publicly declare who they were, what their faith was and what group they belonged to. Though they were surrounded by all these others. Who sometimes tolerated them, sometimes were their friends and sometimes were not. This was not America. Where it was safe to be a Jew. Where it was fun to be a Jew. Where it was easy to be a Jew. Officially, as Khomeini's poster said, Jews are supposed to be a protected people in Islam."

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