Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Iranian Jew fulfils his dream of coming to Israel

Heart-warming piece in Jewish News about Binyamin, the young Iranian Jew whose dream was to come to Israel and join the IDF. (With thanks: a reader)

"To this day, Private Binyamin cannot believe that he is dressed in military uniform topped off with the red Paratrooper Brigade beret. What seemed to be a distant dream just a few years ago became reality when Binyamin immigrated to Israel from Iran and joined the Israel Defense Forces.

"After surfing the IDF website, he got in touch with the Jewish Agency and made it to Israel despite all the difficulties.

"Binyamin, age 24, was born in southern Iran. The Iranian government’s veto against allowing Iranian Jews to immigrate to Israel and the many sanctions on the Iranian Jewish community enhances Binyamin’s desire for freedom. “I grew up with the dream of immigrating to Israel and living there,” he says. “I remember from a young age hearing stories about the State of Israel. They were stories about having the freedom to be Jewish: of having the freedom to walk around wearing a Yarmulke and tallit (prayer shawl). Every Jew from everywhere around world who can contribute and help the country, should.(..)

""Of the 70 million people who live in Iran, there are only 25,000 Jews. “The Jews who live in Iran are good people,” says Binyamin. “They always help everyone with work and day to day problems, including their Muslim neighborhoods when they are in need of assistance.”

"Binyamin tells how he was forced to study in a Muslim school in Iran where they hardly touched upon the subject of Judaism. “I learned English and computers from a very young age, but Torah and Judaism I learned only in the synagogue.” He, like other Iranian Jews, was taught to keep his love for Israel hidden. Before the Iranian Revolution, when there was massive immigration by the Jewish community to the United States and Israel, Binyamin’s family chose to not leave Iran due to his father’s deteriorating health. “My uncle ran away to Israel 28 years ago when he was 18. He, like me, escaped because he loved Israel and could not continue living in the Diaspora. He came here alone. We both escaped. We are two people who can never go back. Today he is married, has four children and a stable job.”

"In Iran, it’s forbidden to view websites that post contrary opinions to those of the government,” remembers Binyamin. “In order to ensure that people do not enter these websites, there are special filters that block undesirable websites. Israeli and American news websites are of those that are forbidden. I learned computer science, so I managed to overpass the filters and surf every website that was blocked. The first one I looked at was the IDF website.”

Read article in full

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