Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews examines one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities with some members entering Iran nearly 3,000 years ago. As Iran’s oldest religious minority, the Jewish community has confronted numerous challenges, and these have affected the overall character of Jewish life in the country. The succession of dynasties and peoples who conquered Iran impacted and enriched Persian Jewish culture in a variety of ways—as has the fact that this community has now lived under Muslim rule for nearly 1,400 years. These influences are revealed in special traditions and unique beliefs. They are also made manifest in the archaeological artifacts, impressive illuminated manuscripts, beautiful ritual objects, amulets, ceremonial garments, musical instruments, photographs, and documentary ephemera presented in this exhibition. Continuing in the Museum’s Goldenberg Galleria, the exhibition examines the modern history of Jews in Iran as well as in Diaspora communities in Israel and the United States. Special emphasis is given to Los Angeles’s own large and dynamic Iranian Jewish community.
These materials for educators were produced by the Educational Department of the Fowler Museum at UCLA with generous funding from the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation.