Local community refuses to forget 12 missing Persian Jews

12 missing Persian Jews: not forgotten

Nearly 300 members of the Iranian Jewish community and local Persian-language media gathered at the Nessah Cultural Center in Beverly Hills on Sept. 27 for an event sponsored by the Council of Iranian Jews to discuss the fate of 12 Persian Jews who were kidnapped by the Iranian secret police between 1994 and 1997 and have not been heard from since. Family members of the missing 12 Jews were on hand to express their frustration with lack of cooperation from the Iranian regime.

“I am sure my son is not lost; he’s alive and being held by the Iranian government and that regime must answer to where they are holding our youngsters!” said Elana Tehrani, whose 17-year-old son, Babak, was arrested by Iranian secret police when trying to flee Iran into Pakistan in 1994.

Those in attendance cried when photos of the missing 12 Jews were held up for the audience with their names and dates of abduction announced. An emotional recorded telephone message to the community from Orit Ravizadeh, one of the missing Jews’ wives living in Israel, was also played for the audience.

Speakers at the event included Nessah’s Rabbi David Shofet and the Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper. Persian Jewish activists George Haroonian, Bijan Khailli, Frank Nikbakht and Pooya Dayamin who spoke at the event said they have been active in trying to resolve the case of the missing 12 for the last six years.

Earlier this month, the kidnapped victim’s families filed suit against Iran’s former President Mohammad Khatami for implementing a policy of abduction and imprisonment of their loved ones.

— Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer

Smile, darn ya!

Operation Smile, a leading humanitarian and medical services organization dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children and young adults worldwide, honored humanitarians Vanessa and Donald Trump Jr. and the Trump family; L.A. Clippers of present (Elton Brand) and past (Norm Nixon); and Abbott, the global health care company, at its fifth annual Operation Smile Gala Sept. 21 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Among the prominent civic leaders in attendance were Milt Hinsch, Jerry and Vicki Moyers, Joe and Sue Kainz, Dennis Seider and dental innovator Dr. Bill Dorfmann, author of “Billion Dollar Smile, a Complete Guide to Your Smile Makeover.”

The evening, whose honorary chairs were Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his wife, Cindy, began with a VIP party, complete with goodies and piano accompaniment and culminated in a dinner and awards ceremony emceed by “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush. Guests were royally entertained by multi-Grammy Award-winner Christopher Cross and Debbie Allen’s Dance Academy.

Lladro, the renowned Spanish House of Porcelain, donated $150,000 to the cause and the evening included a surprise visit from Madelein Cordova Dubon, a 2-year-old girl from Honduras who was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. Event co-chairs Roma Downey and Mark Burnett had recently participated in an Operation Smile medical mission in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where they met and bonded with Madelein.

Operation Smile was founded in 1982 by Dr. William P. Magee, a plastic surgeon, and his wife, Kathleen, a nurse and clinical social worker. It has provided free reconstructive surgery to more than 100,000 children and young adults with cleft lips, cleft palates, tumors and other birth defects in 32 countries around the world.

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Dr. Sarah Weddington, renowned winning attorney in one of the most famous cases in U.S. history, Roe v. Wade, spoke at the annual fundraiser for the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP) recently. Opening her speech, she immediately expressed her deep sadness about learning of the death of her dear friend, colleague and fellow Texan, Ann Richards, former governor of the state of Texas.

“I had the privilege of knowing Ann since the early ’70s,” she told the large group of supporters who turned out for the event. “When it came to running for a political office, Ann was a guru and pioneer in the art of running for political office and winning. Her inspiration, courage and quick wit were element of her savvy personality. Ann Richards was a friend, mentor and role model for women.”

WRRAP raises money for low-income women of all ages, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds who are unable to pay for either emergency contraception or a safe and legal abortion. The event featured sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and a wine reception. Following Weddington’s speech and comments on the upcoming Proposition 85, which would prohibit abortions for California teens until 48 hours after their parents have been notified, there was a Q-and-A session.

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Father of the Bride: No Job, Just Smile

Recently, I told some friends that I was going to accompany my younger daughter while she tried on wedding dresses. Their reactions were as follows:

From the women: “How very sweet”; “How lovely to bond with your daughter”; “I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.”

From the men: “Bring your checkbook.”

This is not going to be a rant about how difficult it is for men to deal with weddings — their own or someone else’s. (In fact my daughter paid for her own dress and, with her fianc√©, is also paying for the wedding.) My role was to stand by, look as though I knew what I was doing, and contribute my considered judgment on how she looked in the dresses she was trying on. Not being an utter fool, I restricted my comments to an occasional “lovely” with a few “beautifuls” added for variety.

Face it friends, when it comes to weddings, men are about as essential as a third leg. This is true during the premarital stages and the wedding itself. (After the wedding it’s another story, but this is a family newspaper.)

We generally stand around, amazed at the enormity of effort that goes into its preparation and then, at the event itself, we walk down the aisle looking like penguins and stand under the chuppah unnoticed while everyone gazes in awe and admiration at the bride. If it weren’t for the fact that the law requires two for a wedding, we could just as well stay home and watch the Wedding Channel.

Viewing the preparations for my daughter’s wedding (never mind that it is scheduled for next November), I am in awe at the breadth and intensity of the action. I can recall three sites that were officially chosen and then rejected. Latest word is that it is set for the chapel of her alma mater, Brandeis University. The bride has informed me of the principal reason for this. Apparently the chapel has a glass wall, which catches the sun at a certain hour of the afternoon so that the wedding pair is silhouetted against the sky. I am not making this up.

When last I heard, the guest list was being kept to 125, a goodly number of whom will fly in from California, where she was born and lived until we moved to Rhode Island. Others will be arriving from Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The dresses for the bridesmaids have already been selected, the canopy has been chosen and the rabbi has been alerted. Enough non-Jews will be present so that my wife will write a booklet explaining to them what they are watching. It will probably contain no reference to the fact that this is an all-woman production.

My role consists of saying the aforementioned “lovelys” and “beautifuls,” as well as a plentiful number of “yes, dears.”

Clayton, the other half of the duo-to-be, has only to utter one “I do,” an important responsibility, granted, but one I’m sure he can handle. His role has been even smaller than mine; he didn’t even get to watch the dress selection. Truth is, he is probably quite happy with this arrangement; call me a sexist pig if you will, but women seem genetically wired for this sort of activity while men are more interested in what takes place after the last grain of rice has been thrown. (Oops, sorry. I forgot. Family newspaper.)

The mother of the bride has been content with offering advice when requested. As a practicing historian, her interest in weddings as a genre is limited to the marital customs of the Incas and the Aztecs, most of which would probably be illegal in California. The stepfather of the groom lives in Washington state and has, thankfully, been most circumspect in his queries about what to expect when the day arrives. I doubt whether he will be surprised at anything that transpires. As a former Marine, he knows when to duck and weddings provide many opportunities for the men involved in them to practice their avoidance skills.

Which is pretty much what I am about at the moment. Frankly, I’m not anticipating the wedding as much as the aftermath, because in a year or two I expect that the products of this union will begin to emerge, among them I trust, at least one baby boy. Eventually he will develop a liking for the important things in life: baseball, TV, “EverQuest” and girls. When he does, you know whom he will turn to for advice and counsel. And the best part is that when he finds the right girl and is ready to marry, never, ever, will he ask me if the shoes he has picked match the socks he will be wearing at his wedding.

For this let us all give thanks and say, amen.

Yehuda Lev, former associate editor of The Jewish Journal, now makes his home in Providence, R.I. His business card reads “Journalist Emeritus.”


Kids Page

Aaron and the Almond

Moses’ brother Aaron, our first high priest, had a staff. One day, it grew almond flowers and fruit. It was God’s way of showing the Israelites that Aaron was personally chosen by God to be their spiritual leader. He became like a father to the Israelites. Almond in Hebrew is shaked, which also means diligent and fast. Aaron was very fast at one particular thing — stopping arguments and bringing love back to people who were angry.
Find the Aaron who lives inside you. Use him this summer when you are at camp, or meeting new people on vacation. Greet friends with a smile and with affection — and it will come back to you really fast.

Present Time

What You Need:
1. Plain white paper
2. Pair of white boxer shorts that will fit Dad
or Grandpa
3. Fabric crayons (these are special crayons labeled
for fabric)
4. Iron
5. Hard flat surface (such
as a countertop)
6. Scissors

How To Make It:
1. Draw a picture or design on the white paper.
2. Cut around the picture once it is complete. If you need to, darken in some of the lighter areas of the drawing so that it will transfer well.
3. Have Mom (or another grown-up) iron the design onto the shorts according to the instructions on the back of the package of crayons.
4. Wrap it up and give to someone special.

Father’s Day, Hooray!

Fill in the blanks to learn the history of Father’s Day:
birthday, June, Spokane, 1910, honor, five, Mother’s.

Sonora Louise Smart Dodd lived in _________, Wash.
After her mother died, her father raised her and her _______ siblings.
One day, in 1909, while listening to a sermon about _________ Day, she decided that she must create a day to _______ fathers.
She chose ________ 19, because it was her father’s _________. She gained national support and Father’s day was first celebrated in ______.