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Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews



Kamāncheh, Iran, 20th century. The Menashe Sasson collection, Tel Aviv. Photo: Elad Haggai FriedmanLight and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews named among 2012 most important exhibitions
The Jewish Daily Forward has chosen Light and Shadows for its annual Forward Fives which celebrates the year’s cultural output.  Every year the Jewish Daily Forward selects five top pickings in a number of cultural categories which include exhibitions, poetry, films and more. Beit Hatfutsot is honored that this year’s Forward Fives includes our groundbreaking exhibition Light and Shadows. The Forward wrote "At a time when Iran is ever-present in the American consciousness a major exhibition about the Jews of Iran, which originated at Beit Hatfutsot: The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, opened at  the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews traces the 3,000 year-long history Iranian Jewry with more than 100 objects ranging from archaeological artifacts to intricately made Judaica to illuminated manuscripts to contemporary photographs and art installations.”
 Ancient manuscripts viewed by visitors in L.A.
 Light and Shadows exhibition in Fowler UCLA
Light and Shadows continues to receive significant media coverage, The Jewish Journal ran an entire supplement on this groundbreaking exhibition in October 2012, prior the exhibition opening at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles. The main feature story on Light and Shadows has since been reprinted in the Jewish newspaper of San Francisco and the Bay Area -  J.WeeklyIn addition, the November and December issues of the San Diego Jewish Journal, which is distributed in southern California, also featured an article on the exhibition.
 Orit Engleberg Baram, Geula Goldberg, Smadar Keren, Dr. Marla C. Berns (Fowler Director),
Moti Schwartz
Dr. Sharon Nazarian, Maj. Gen. (res.) Eitan Ben Eliahu, Shulamith Bahat
Light and Shadows is on view at the Fowler Museum through March 10, 2013 and is accompanied by exceptional cultural programs. An outstanding gallery talk by Thomas Kren, Associate Director for Collections at the J. Paul Getty Museum and a manuscripts specialist, shed light on the illuminated manuscripts on display in the exhibit (January 9th).  Poets Majid Naficy, Bernard Radfar, and Niloufar Talebi will read from contemporary and classical poems in both Persian and in the ancient language of Aramaic, with English translations. The readings will be accompanied by traditional Persian music (January 22nd).  On January 26th  Galeet Dardashti, inheritor of a Persian musical legacy from her grandfather, famed classical singer  Yona Dardashti will present a multi-sensory performance entitled Monajat to kick off the Light and Shadows Conference weekend.  On January 27th a conference entitled From Ancient Persia to Contemporary LA: 2,700 Years of Iranian Jewish Historywill bring together distinguished scholars to explore topics including religions and cultures in ancient Persia, religious minorities under Shiite Islamic rule, and contemporary issues of identity and culture, including women in Iran and the Jewish-Persian diaspora.
Activities continue as young professionals from across Los Angeles will celebrate a pre-Purim bash in fancy dress or masquerade as they view the exhibit on February 9th.  Kids are invited to a Purim party on February 24th as they recall the biblical story of Esther, which took place in Shushan (identified as present-day Hamadan in Iran).
Shalom Sabar, professor of art and Jewish folklore at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, illuminates select objects featured in Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews and will provide a fascinating view of Persian Jewish art in his lecture on February 21st. The concluding program entitled The Next Gen of Persian Jews in LA will take place on March 7th.  Panelists including entrepreneur Sam Nazarian, actress Bahar Soomekh, Tabby Davoodi of 30 YEARS AFTER, and professor Saba Soomekh will break taboos by discussing: najeeb (sexual purity) and the difference in expectations between men and women; homosexuality within the Iranian Jewish community; socio-economic disparity and the pressure to “fit in” financially; the baal teshuvah movement (those embracing Orthodox Judaism); career choices outside societal norms; and other issues faced by young Persian Jews as they navigate between their Persian, American, and Jewish identities.
The lead sponsor for the exhibition is the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation.
The exhibition partner at the Fowler Museum is the Jewish Federation of Greater
Los Angeles.
Additional generous support comes from the Farhang Foundation and Sinai
The original presentation of the exhibition at Beit Hatfutsot was made possible by generous gifts from The David Berg Foundation, the Diamond Charity Foundation, the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York, the Maccabee Foundation and individual philanthropist, the Global Mashadi Jewish Federation, members of the Iranian Jewish community as well as other Jewish communities.