Leaving Iran, by
Isaac Yomtovian, is a collection of nonfiction short stories. These
humorous and heartfelt stories take 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. He
studied the tenets of Islam—in fact, he mastered Islamic education
with more proficiency than most of his Muslim peers!
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.
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 descriptions of
food, music, home life and 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. He also takes us into the
secret world of shadows where Jewish men and Muslim women engage in
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.
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.