Iranian Jewish Culure
Aziz Daneshrad “Gabay”
Presidents of the Tehran Jewish Association

Aziz Daneshrad “Gabay”


Aziz Daneshrad “Gabay” was born in 1920 C.E., 1299 of the Persian calendar, to a religious Jewish family of the Iranian city of Golpayegan.

His father, Haghnazar Gabay, was a well-known Jewish cleric of Golpayegan, who did much remarkable service throughout his life to advocate Judaism in that midwestern Iranian city. Among his achievements, he built a synagogue in Golpayegan, a project that took him several times to Baghdad, Iraq, to provide a holy scroll of the Torah for the synagogue. Sadly, on the way back from his last trip to Baghdad, he fell badly ill, and he died shortly afterwards. At the time of his death, Aziz, the youngest child of the family, was no older than 3. Thenceforth, his mother undertook his upbringing, along with his two brothers and four sisters.

Barely 6, Aziz Daneshrad’s left knee was badly injured in an accident, leaving him unable to make quick moves in that leg. Years later, at the age of 50, he underwent a knee surgery. Although the operation did help diminish the pain, he nevertheless continued to suffer pain in that knee to the end of his life.

Ever since a little child, Aziz Daneshrad received his earliest education in the Jewish tradition, acquiring a solid knowledge of the Torah and Hebrew language. Then, having moved to Tehran, he received his official education at the Ettehad “Alliance” Schools and Nezam High School. He then went on to study Electrical Engineering at the School of Technology of Tehran University, whence he graduated first in his class and received the High Medal of Science. During the graduation ceremony, Mr. Riazi, an engineer himself and the then Dean of the School, broke tradition when he refused to present the High Medal himself to Mr. Daneshrad, albeit a high ranking graduate, because he was Jewish. Thus, the task of offering the medal was passed on to another person. Years later, as life goes, Mr. Daneshrad was working at his prestigious managerial position at the Ministry of Economy, when Mr. Riazi appeared at his office on official business. Mr. Daneshrad took care of his guest’s business, kindly and patiently, and then he asked Mr. Riazi whether he had recognized him. Naturally, his guest couldn’t remember him. So Mr. Daneshrad introduced himself, reminding his guest of that graduation day, and how the man had refused to give him the medal himself, because of his Jewish identity. Mr. Riazi, an engineer and a former Dean, expressed his regret immediately and apologized for his earlier conduct.

Ever since the elementary school, and throughout high school and university, Aziz Daneshrad had been both a student and a teacher. For years, in spite of being a little child, his limited financial means made him walk all the way to where he had to teach, a particularly exhausting and excruciating ordeal, given the pain he suffered from the knee injury.

Following graduation, Aziz Daneshrad was granted a scholarship to pursue his graduate studies in France. However, he refused the scholarship due to his responsibilities toward his mother. Instead, he began work in the Ministry of Culture & Education, teaching mathematics, physics and chemistry in Marat and Kourosh “Cyrus” High Schools of Tehran. Concurrently, he rented a place at the Mokhberoddoleh Square to teach privately after-hours. He kept his private classroom open for many years, until the heavy demand of government jobs compelled him to close it. Also, in addition to teaching at high schools, Aziz Daneshrad, an engineer, taught mathematics at the Tehran Polytechnic University.

Aziz Daneshrad left the Ministry of Culture & Education for the Ministry of Mines & Industries. Once there, he was assigned to form the Office of Technological Studies, which would become one of the most prominent bases for the industrialization of Iran. He was then transferred to the Ministry of Economy as the General Director of the Nation’s Industries, but disagreements with the Minister of Economy soon made him leave that office. Meanwhile, the National Steelmaking Company of Iran was established, whose C.E.O. invited Daneshrad to join in as the Director of the Technical Affairs, the Deputy C.E.O., and later, the Superintendent of the Construction Affairs of the Steel Factory of Isfahan. In those capacities, he represented Iran on several visits to the Soviet Union, France, England and Switzerland, during which he helped conduct the negotiations and signed the early agreements.

His invaluable services earned Aziz Daneshrad the Prime Medal of His Royal Highness, and the Secondary Medal of the Crown.

Side by side his many responsibilities in various governmental positions, he acted for awhile as the C.E.O. of the Etteka Organization and the Arya Cement Company. His résumé also includes an outstanding role as the advisor to the National Planning and Budget Organization of Iran.

In 1979 C.E., 1357 of the Persian calendar, after thirty-three years of services, Aziz Daneshrad retired from the government sector. Still, with much relentless effort, during the critical days of the Revolution, his brave, caring and timely action saved the day, when he stopped the strikers from putting out the tall crucible of the Steel Factory of Isfahan, thus sparing the factory from an explosion.

It should be noted that his years of service in the government sector were throughout tainted by a hostile atmosphere and the poisonous air spread by some bigots and subversive elements. Yet, Aziz Daneshrad, an engineer, stayed course with his extraordinary industry, honesty and strength, as he fulfilled his responsibilities as best as possible. Even in retirement, he kept up studying and doing research, and on occasion, he prepared an enthusiastic translation or an original book or paper. His interest as an author covered not only various technological areas, but also themes related to the Jewish culture and social history. Aziz Daneshrad was fluent in French, English Hebrew, German and Russian.

Aside from his career in the government sector, the engineer Aziz Daneshrad was particularly active in the social affairs of the Jewish community of Iran. In his days of youth, he wrote for such publications as Bani-Adam “The Child of Adam” and Israel, shedding light on a range of problems that faced the Jewish people, particularly the Jews of Iran. Later, Morad Arieh, the Representative of the Jewish Community in the Parliament, and the then Chair of the Tehran Jewish Association, asked Daneshrad to join in with the Association for hands-on collaborations. Aziz Daneshrad accepted the invitation and undertook a vast spectrum of services, especially as a member of the Cultural and Social Affairs Committee of the Association. In 1965 C.E., 1344 of the Persian calendar, he helped establish and shape the National Fund of the Tehran Jewish Association, and he saved many of the endangered assets of the Jewish community. Afterwards, in spite of his busy schedule in various government capacities, his advice was sought on a regular basis by the members of the Jewish Association. Also, his opinions consistently benefited members of the other Iranian Jewish organizations of Tehran, such as the Jewish Academic Students Organization and the Iranian Jewish Graduate Society.

In the years that led to the Revolution, whilst Hadj Habib Elghanian was shortly arrested in 1977 C.E., and later, in the aftermath of his execution in 1979 C.E., Aziz Daneshrad, an engineer, was immediately appointed as the Interim Chair of the Tehran Jewish Association. During both of these sensitive and tumultuous periods, thanks to his relentless and productive efforts, he managed to bring unity and peace to the Jewish community of Iran. Shortly after the success of the Islamic Revolution, he was chosen as the Representative of the Jewish community to the Assembly of the Constitutional Experts. In that capacity, Aziz Daneshrad did all that he could, not only to defend the rights of the Jewish people at the heart of a larger Islamic society, but also the rights of all Iranians within the Islamic Republic Constitution.

In 1944 C.E., 1323 of the Persian calendar, Aziz Daneshrad “Gabay”, an engineer, married Aghdas, his paternal cousin. The couple brought three sons and two daughters to the world.

Aziz Daneshrad passed away in 1991 C.E., 1370 of the Persian calendar, at the age of 71, following a long battle with illness. The engineer Aziz Daneshrad’s short but throughout proud and triumphant life was not only intertwined with the larger scene of the Iranian Jewish political, social and cultural life, but also he left a deep and constructive impression on the larger non‑Jewish sectors of the Iranian society, so far as he was widely praised by everyone for his invaluable philanthropic services, both within and beyond the Jewish community.


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