Iranian Jewish Culure
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Haroun Yashayaei
Presidents of the Tehran Jewish Association

Haroun Yashayaei


 

His persistent efforts, and his attention to the cultural and traditional values, have earned Haroun “Parviz” Yashayaei a permanent niche in the history of the Iranian movie industry as a successful producer of feature films and commercials. Still, for three decades, he has also played a significant and fundamental role as a historic public servant of the Iranian Jewish community.

Haroun “Parviz” Yashayaei, cf. “Isaiah”, was born in 1935 C.E., 1314 of the Persian calendar, to a religious Jewish family of Tehran, Iran.

A month after his birth, Haroun’s father, Mosheh “Moses” Haim, who worked as a butcher in the Sar-Chal a.k.a. Oudlajan Jewish Neighborhood, passed away at the young age of 44, due to Tetanus. Thence, the task of raising Haroun, as well as his five brothers and three sisters, fell upon their mother’s shoulders. Haroun studied at Nour-e Sedaghat “The Light of Honesty” Elementary and Ettehad “Alliance” High School. He then went on to study Philosophy and Social Sciences at University of Tehran.

Haroun Yashayaei’s earliest experience in social activities goes back to his days as an elementary pupil, when he joined a social group known in Hebrew as kol na’im or “The Pleasant Voice”. The group came together at the Ezra-Yaghoub “Jacob” Synagogue, under the supervision of Sulayman or Sulaiman “Shlomo” Haim, the famed lexicographer.

As time went by, the young Haroun witnessed the ongoing poverty, hunger and deprivations across the society, and his observations moved him deeply, driving him to political activism in his high school years. In 1951 C.E., 1330 of the Persian calendar, he joined the Bani-Adam “Children of Adam” publication. Led by its chief-editor, Loghman Saleh, the publication was attached to a group of Jews who were active in line with the Toudeh Party ideas. Later on, as he joined some larger social groups, he participated in a street rally organized by the Toudeh Party against the Fascists. He was arrested, and imprisoned for nine months.

In 1960 C.E., 1339 of the Persian calendar, soon into his academic studies, and together with some friends, he formed the Jewish Academic Students Organization, and he had it registered by the state. He also undertook the cultural obligations of the Bulletin of Tehran Jewish Association. Furthermore, in his university days, he joined the Political Students Committee. His extended activities in that capacity earned him, in part, several arrests and academic suspensions, including one relatively long hiatus. Nevertheless, in 1970 C.E., 1349 of the Persian calendar, he succeeded to earn his Master’s Degree in Philosophy from Tehran University.

At the age of 19, aided by a fellow cellmate friend, and aiming to earn a living, Haroun Yashayaei ventured into the world of commercial advertisement, a path which brought him to found a cinematic advertisement production company. Before long, his persistence and proper management skills led him to organize a more robust organization to both produce and distribute commercials. This led in turn to establishing a cinematography studio named Tabli, later known as Pakhsh-Iran. Soon enough, he was contributing to major breakthroughs in the history of Iranian movie industry.

The advent of television shocked the cinematic market, but the hiccup could not disrupt Haroun Yashayaei in pursuing his goals. In 1979 C.E., 1358 of the Persian calendar, thanks to his proper management and a well-planned policy, he produced and distributed his first feature film, Jayezeh “Prize”, directed by one of the well-known figures of the Iranian cinema. The film proved to be a moderate success.

Years later, in 2008 C.E., 1387 of the Persian calendar, during the 28th Fajr Film Festival, the Iranian Film Critics chose Haroun Yashayaei as the Best Producer in the 30-year period since the Islamic Revolution, a distinction that brought him the Crystal Simorgh Award.

As of 2018, over the course of more than half of a century, he has produced hundreds of commercials and trailers, three feature documentaries, and more than ten worthwhile movies, most of which have earned awards at various domestic and international festivals. Thus, he has managed to maintain his bold presence as a successful and authoritative figure within the artistic and cinematic circles.

His cinematic productions include in part:

*) Nakhoda Khorshid, “Captain Khorshid”: The movie earned the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Awards at the 5th Fajr Festival, Iran. It was also chosen as the Best Film in the Locarno Festival, 1988, Switzerland.

*) Dar Massir-e Tondbad, “On the Path of the Windstorm”: The movie won the Best Film Award at the 7th Fajr Festival, Iran, as well as several other awards at various international festivals. This film provided Haroun Yashayaei with a cinematic vehicle to express his thoughts against fascism.

*) Hamoun: The movie earned six prizes in the 8th Fajr International Film Festival, Iran, 1989 C.E., 1368 of the Persian calendar.

*) Kimia “Alchemy”: It was nominated for thirteen prizes, and it won four Crystal Simorgh Awards in the 13th Fajr Film Festival, Iran.

*) Ejareh-Neshin-ha “The Tenants”: This film has earned its place as one of the top-grossing films of the first decade after the Revolution.

*) His other works include: Ey Iran “O Iran!”, Noon va Goldoun a.k.a. “A Moment of Innocence”, Shahr-e Zanan “The City of Women”, Divar “The Wall”, and Honarpisheh “The Actor”, the last of which earned several Best Male Actor Awards in international festivals.

As time-consuming as they were, his professional cinematic efforts couldn’t interrupt Haroun Yashayaei’s social activities. In 1977 C.E., 1356 of the Persian calendar, he was put in charge as the Director of Dr. Rouhollah Sapir Hospital. In 1978 C.E., as the Islamic Revolution was in progress, he formed The Jewish Intellectual Society of Iran. Spearheading the opposition, the organization managed to avert many problems that could have otherwise emerged before the Iranian Jewish community, especially in those critical times. In 1992 C.E., Haroun Yashayaei announced that the fourteen-year old organization had been dissolved.

The following year, in 1993 C.E., Haroun Yashayaei was elected as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Tehran Jewish Association, an office which he went on to serve for fifteen years. Thus, until 2007 C.E., 1386 of the Persian calendar, as the Chair of a religious minority Association, and during a sensitive period in the history of the country, he relentlessly fought onward and persisted to fulfill a significant role in preserving and protecting the cultural heritage of the Jewish community, and to maintain their ideals.

Haroun Yashayaei’s major activities during that period include in part:

*) Founding the largest Central Library of the Iranian Jewish community, at the Kourosh “Cyrus” Complex, Tehran.

*) Maintaining and Renovating the Beheshtieh “Eden” Jewish Cemetery of Tehran.

*) Opening new athletic clubs in the cities of Isfahan and Shiraz.

*) Organizing the dibrey torah “Torah Commentary” classes.

*) Founding and publishing the Binah “Wisdom” Magazine.

*) Preserving and protecting the Jewish schools, synagogues, Dr. Sapir Hospital and other Jewish community properties against the violations carried out by some ignorant individuals or groups.

*) Renovating and expanding the Health Section of the Elderly Care Center.

*) Renovating the Ezra-Yaghoub “Jacob” and Chadash Synagogues. Both sites were subsequently registered with the Cultural Heritage Organization.

*) Facilitating the construction of mikveh-s or “the ritual baths” at several neighborhoods of Tehran.

*) Appointing a kashrut supervisor to oversee the kosher meat preparation.

*) Mechanization of the baking of matzah.

 

In 1964 C.E., 1343 of the Persian calendar, Haroun Yashayaei married Farideh Pouratian. The couple brought a daughter and a son to the world. Like her father, Marjan has been active in social affairs, both in her own right and by her father’s side, in many a shared social endeavor. Arash currently fulfills his responsibilities as the C.E.O. of Pakhsh-Iran Company.

Currently, Haroun Yashayaei enjoys his retirement years, even though he remains busy as an advisor well-informed in social activities, and even as he keeps on his cinematic pursuits. Recently, in 2018 C.E., he published his book in Persian entitled Roozi Keh Esm-e Khodam Ra Danestam, i.e., “The Day I Learned My Name”, a collection of real-life stories of the Jews of Iran. He’s also collecting notes for, and working on, another book, temporarily entitled “The Sixty-Year History”. The latter is meant to relate a perceptive account of the past sixty years, alongside documented statistics, covering the most significant events of the period. 

Related Links:

 

Yashayaei, Haroun: A Review of “Padyavand”.(Review in Persian)

[ HYPERLINK for the above: http://7dorim.com/books/padiavand.asp ]

Yashayaei, Haroun: Interview With the Iranian Affairs Analytical Journalist of Khabar Online.

[ HYPERLINK for the above: http://7dorim.com/Tasavir/haroon.pdf ]