Iranian Jewish Culure
Lotfollah Hay
Jewish Representatives to the Parliament

Lotfollah Hay


Lotfollah Hay (Hai) was born in 1917 C.E., 1296 of the Persian calendar, to a religious Jewish family of the Oudlajan neighborhood of Tehran. His father Shemuel “Samuel” Hay was a prominent member of the Jewish community, a philanthropist, and a trusted name in the Grand Bazaar of Tehran. Shemuel was a founding member of the Hayim Synagogue, and a founding father of the Kourosh “Cyrus” Synagogue and Cultural Group, which would include the Kourosh elementary and high schools.

Lotfollah Hay studied at the Kourosh primary, and the Sharaf and Iran-shahr high schools. Next, upon the advice of Monsieur Laredo, the former principal of the Alliance Israélite of Tehran, he left for Lebanon to pursue his higher education. In 1945 C.E., Lotfollah graduated in Economy from the School of Finance, Beirut.

Following graduation, Lotfollah Hay continued to stay for awhile in Lebanon, and he began to do some business to garner experience in the field. Toward the end of WWII, however, he returned to his homeland, where he was immediately drafted to serve in the military. Yet, due to the invasion of Iran by the Allied forces, the Iranian Army was dismantled; and he was soon relieved from duty. Thence, he was fast absorbed by the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, where he began work at his father’s textile and garments store. Over time, his undertakings expanded, and he managed to earn his own share of reputation and credibility among the businessmen.

In 1949, Lotfollah Hay married Maliheh Touba. The union brought three sons and one daughter to the world.

In the early of 1950’s, Lotfollah Hay officially began his social activities, as he joined the Tehran Jewish Association. In 1951, he ran a campaign for the Association and became a member of its Board of Directors. Subsequently, as the Vice President, he went on for years to guide a stream of social and cultural activities.

He constantly tried to revive the cultural identity of the Jews of Iran and to raise their knowledge and awareness, even as he sought to connect the Iranian Jews to the world Jewry. To that end, he tried to introduce the Iranian Jewish community to the world, and to make them join the international Jewish community.

Among his social endeavors, Lotfollah Hay pursued close collaborations with the Otzar HaTorah Cultural Institution. Also, due to his initiation and efforts, the Magbit nonprofit foundation was established.

At that time, his principal aims included:

(*) Reviving the history & culture of the Iranian Jewish community.
(*) Preserving the Hebrew language & connecting to the Jewish communities worldwide.
(*) Raising the society’s knowledge & awareness.
(*) Maintaining the community’s rights and privileges as a religious minority.
(*) Obstructing the influence of the Christian & Bahaii religious promulgations.
(*) Averting the threat of assimilation facing the Jewish community.

Lotfollah Hay also played a significant role during the Parliamentary election campaigns of Jamshid Kashfi against the incumbent Morad Arieh.

Among his most important services at the Tehran Jewish Association, Hay helped in the settlement of the Iraqi Jewish immigrants and homeless, a task that spread his name beyond the Iranian Jewish community and brought him more attention and appreciation from the Jews of the other countries.

In 1967, Lotfollah Hay ran for a seat in the 22nd Parliamentary elections. By the majority vote of his people, he won against his opponent Jamshid Kashfi, thus earning a seat as the Representative of the Iranian Jewish community in the National Parliament. He held the position for the following four years, ran another successful campaign in 1971 for the 23rd Parliament, and thence continued to serve for another four years, until about the middle of 1975.

During his eight years in the Parliament, Lotfollah Hay’s political skills, goodwill, and commitment to fulfilling his obligations, easily earned him numerous friends among the country’s statesmen, and much respect as one of the outstanding figures of the Parliament.

Once in the office, and as a deputy chair, Lotfollah Hay undertook the duties of the Financial Affairs Commission, and later, the Budgetary Affairs Commission of the National Parliament. Among his important achievements as a member of the Parliament, he pursued an application to have the Ministry of Finance approve tax credits for the donations paid by Jews to the Jewish nonprofit organizations, a request the ratification of which had thereto remained unexpected.

He further proposed establishing a scientific research center in Iran, to which he gifted one million rials of his own. He further supported this center, on his own behalf, by contributing two million rials in donations to resolve the endowment issues, toward constructing the Farah Pahlavi Hospital. Ever since he stepped upon the social field, Hay carried out many remarkable philanthropic endeavors.

Lotfollah Hay also chaired the celebration of the Jewish minority festivities. To that end, in 1971, a portion of the Talmud translated to Persian by Chacham Netaneli was printed and distributed as The Treasures of Talmud. Furthermore, to advance cultural goals, he dedicated his salary from his work as a member of the Parliament to the young Jewish organizations. Following his time in the Parliament, he continued his social activities more broadly. Thenceforth, as an experienced and informed consultant, he served both the Tehran Jewish Association and the upcoming Jewish Representative to the Parliament, putting ever more energy into his services.

In 1979, with the advent of the Islamic Revolution, Hay left Iran alongside his family and immigrated to the United States.

Having settled in Los Angeles, even at the ripe age of retirement, he did not stop serving the people. Thus, he immediately resumed his political, cultural, social and philanthropic activities. To that end, he communicated and established relations with most of the statesmen and benevolent people of an Iranian origin, and even some of the American political leaders. He didn’t miss any chances to participate in social and political seminars, where he could discuss the issues facing the Iranian immigrants.

By persistent efforts, Lotfollah Hay played a remarkable role in establishing and shaping the Iranian Jewish cultural institutions. Once the Nessah Cultural Center had been founded, he was chosen to its Board of Directors, which he served for four years as the Chair. He further played a fundamental philanthropic role as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Iranian American Jewish Federation, Los Angeles.

Awhile later, assisted by some of the other Iranian investors and first-rate financial executives who resided in the United States, Lotfollah Hay set out to establish the Iranian American Chamber of Commerce, which he served for long as a member and as the Chair of its Council.

One year after founding the Chamber of Commerce, and together with another group of his friends, Hay formed the Iranian American Society of the Republican Party.

In 1990, a ruinous earthquake shook the Iranian cities of Manjil and Roudbar. Moved by this tragedy, Lotfollah Hay, besides his other political, economic and social activities, made a relentless effort and managed to collect some medicine and monetary donations, which were sent as aid to the quake-stricken people of the country.

As of 2012, and despite his old age, Lotfollah Hay more or less continues his social activities.

 Lotfolah Hay  died in 2018 C.E., 1397 of the Persian calendar, at the age of 101

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