Leaving Iran: A Glimpse into the Persian Mind

On April 24, Park Synagogue welcomed author, Issac Yomtovian, to speak on his new memoir, Leaving Iran: A Glimpse into the Persian Mind. The program, presented by the Robert Leitson Memorial Fund and catered by Cafe 56, was attended by more than 200 people who enjoyed an informative and eye-opening evening with friends old and new.  

The evening held many surprises - beautiful passages from the book read by Isaac's wife, improptu Farsi poems read and translated by a friend in the audience, and even a round of "Yom Huledet Same'ach" in honor of Jay Leitson's milestone birthday!

Thank you Marlene Leitson and Jay Leitson for sponsoring this wonderful evening; and thank you co-chairs Joanne Prober, Molly Friedson, and Ieda Warshay for coordinating the event and making it happen!

Joanne Prober, co-chair of the event, with Issac Yomtovian. Isaac graciously donated a portion of the evening's book sales to the Park Synagogue Sisterhood.

To purchase Leaving Iran, please click the book image above to download the order form.

Leaving Iran – A Glimpse Into The Persian Mind, by Isaac Yomtovian, takes the reader on a journey with Isaac, a Jewish boy born in Tehran, who spent his childhood in a multi-cultural neighborhood among Shiah Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Baha’is. While attending a Muslim elementary school, Isaac developed very close friendships with Muslim boys and a keen understanding of the tenets of Islam.

Through a collection of humorous and heartfelt true stories, Leaving Iran reveals the rich history, culture and customs of Jewish and non-Jewish Persians. There are portrayals of religious and secular observances and holidays, verses of Persian poetry and renditions of ancient folktales, accompanied by rich descriptions of food, music, living conditions and events of daily life. Mr. Yomtovian exposes the reader to a rich variety of characters, including radical Shiah clerics, shopkeepers, farmers, professionals, teachers and prostitutes.

Mr. Yomtovian describes at length the enduring and confusing relationships that Iranian Jews experienced with their Muslim fellow countrymen: Relationships that were often friendly, but were sometimes laden with intolerance, discrimination—and danger.

Torn between his love of Iran—the land where his family’s roots have existed for over 2,500 years—and the beloved Jewish homeland of Israel, Isaac finally decides to emigrate in 1966. He lives on a kibbutz, volunteers in the 1967 War, and completes an Engineering degree at the Technion Institute of Technology. Soon he becomes disenchanted with the intolerance of Israeli Jews towards non-European immigrants, and leaves Israel for America.

Even though he becomes an American citizen and deeply loves and appreciates his new home, Isaac constantly keeps himself informed about Iran, a nation living under the political and social repression of the ultra-conservative ayatollahs and other clerics. The last part of this book contains an overview of recent Iranian history and politics, including the role oil played as the catalyst for foreign political domination and control. Also discussed are the ramifications of Russian, British and American encroachment into Iranian political, social and economic institutions.

Leaving Iran offers the reader an insight into these pressing questions: What is the historical basis for the intense hostility towards America and the West? How and why did the present-day Islamic Republic come to power? Why does the Islamic Republic of Iran behave the way it does? What is the impact of anti-American conspiracy theories and anti-Zionist propaganda? How should the West respond to Iran? How do the Iranian Muslims living in America deal with issues related to the policies of the Islamic Republic? The reader will be able to evaluate the motives of the Iranian regime and its intentions for the Middle East and beyond.

Above all, Leaving Iran is the personal story of a man’s private struggle to find tolerance and peace of mind. Throughout his journey, Isaac never loses hope for a democratic Iran. And he never loses his love for the country of his birth.

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