Light and Shadows: The story of Iranian Jews

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Purim costumes, Tehran, 1964

To get to the Fowler Museum on the campus of UCLA,you might drive through Westwood, and the many signs and restaurants that herald one of Los Angeles’ constituencies: Persian Jews.

The community is 50-thousand strong in the metro area–the largest of its kind in the world outside Israel.  Though the diaspora from Iran began in 1979 with the fall of the Shah, it’s now being celebrated at the Fowler with a new exhibition called Light and Shadows.

The exhibition’s been imported from the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, and has been embellished to include local history.  In the galleries you’ll see the story of the Persian Jews told through ancient artifacts alongside modern ones.

Zionist Federation, Iran, 1920

How did Jews manage to practice their faith after Muslims conquered Persia? How does the small community of Jews that remains in Iran co-exist with Muslims today?  A walk through the galleries of the Fowler will answer these questions, and more.

Torah case, western Iran, 1867

Through March, there will be a number of public talks and celebrations.  Check the Fowler website.  Here’s a brief overview with Fowler museum director Marla Berns:

Opens Sunday, October 22