Iranian Jewish Culure
Dr. Homayoun Sameyah
Presidents of the Tehran Jewish Association

Dr. Homayoun Sameyah


Homāyoun Sāmeyah Najaf-Ābādi was born in 1965 C.E., 1344 of the Persian calendar, henceforth P.C., to a religious Jewish family of Tehran. His father, Yaghoub “Jacob” Sameyah, was a merchant and a trusted member of the Grand Bazaar of Tehran.

Homayoun Sameyah studied at the Ganj-e Danesh “Treasure of Knowledge” a.k.a. “Otzar Ha-Torah” Elementary, and at Kourosh “Cyrus the Great” and Hasht-roudi High Schools. Past the national admissions exam known as the Concours, he went on to study at the Medical University of Mash-had, in the far eastern Iran, whence in 1991 C.E., 1371 P.C., he received his Doctorate in Pharmacology. Upon graduation, he was deployed to the city of Kermanshah, in the western Iran, to perform the national military service. Two years later, having fulfilled the draft, he returned to Tehran, and he opened a pharmacy in a deprived area of the Iranian capital to better serve the needs of his impoverished compatriots.

Serving his education and occupation, Dr. Sameyah has always tried to provide the required medication for those living in the impoverished neighborhoods. As such, he has come to be known as a caring, amicable, popular and successful pharmaceutical doctor. He has received much appreciation and several official Commendations including those by the Basij and other Iranian institutions for aiding the deprived sectors and the less fortunate members of the society, particularly in regards to the field of pharmacy.

Homayoun Sameyah began his social and cultural activities in the prime of youth, when he joined Khaneh-ye Javanan-e Yahoud, i.e. “The Young Iranian Jewish Club”. His energetic presence would establish him as one of the pioneers of this famed institution. Later, during his student years in the city of Mash-had in the eastern Iran, he was known as an active member of the Mash-hadi Jews’ Levian Synagogue.

In 1990 C.E., 1369 P.C., Dr. Homayoun Sameyah married his future wife Dorita Mo’alemi. The union brought two sons to the world.

In 2009 C.E., 1388 P.C., on the advice of a number of caring members of the community, and despite his busy schedule and critical life as a pharmacist, Dr. Homayoun Sameyah agreed to run in the then upcoming elections for the Tehran Jewish Association. Supported by the members of the Abrishami and Levian Synagogues, he formed coalitions with some of the younger candidates. And by a majority vote, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Association, going on to serve for the following four years as the Chair of the Association.

The new Board of Directors of the Association was distinct for its remarkably young composition, several of whom had no background collaborating with the Association.

In 2012 C.E., 1392 P.C., Dr. Homayoun Sameyah’s distinguished leadership as the Chair of the Tehran Jewish Association was widely recognized when a majority vote of his constituency brought him yet another term at the helm of the Board of the Association. Beginning with the new term, he refreshed his mission at the institution, aided by the hands-on collaboration of the younger force that had joined the Association.

With much relentless effort, Dr. Homayoun Sameyah tried to make himself and his fellow Board members the most productive. The following list offers a selection of the Tehran Jewish Association’s achievements during this period:

1) Following through with the unfinished projects begun by the earlier Associations.

2) The first complete renovation of the Mohebban Hall in 40 years.

3) Successful publication of the large Haim Persian to Hebrew Dictionary in 2015 C.E., 1394 P.C. The extensive preparations to publish this particular volume of the famed Sulayman “Sulaiman” Haim dictionaries had begun in the 1970’s C.E., following the author’s death. However, on several occasions and for various reasons, the project had been put on hold.

4) Closing the Jewish schools across Tehran on Saturdays to observe the Shabbath, for the first time in 37 years. Also, action was taken to prevent the decline in numbers of the Jewish schools. Moreover, the Real-Estate Properties Committee of the Tehran Jewish Association obtained the ruling from the Judiciary to evacuate portions of the Abrishami School which had been seized unlawfully for years by some people.

5) Providing full support to the young Jewish institutions, and a complete renovation of the food-court of Khaneh-ye Javanan “The Young Jewish Club”, Tehran. Furthermore, closer relations and tighter cooperation were reinforced between the Tehran Jewish Association and the Jewish Associations of the other Iranian cities.

6) Purchase and installation of a most modern matzah-bakery machine, in accordance with the laws of kashrut.

7) Supporting and addressing the needs of the Jews of Kerman, Rafsanjan and Yazd; establishing religious classes and deploying Hebrew teachers to the city of Miando’ab; assisting the Jews of Kermanshah, in the western Iran, in training an expert for the kosher slaughter of the birds and mammals; and providing support in regards to the mash-giach i.e. the kashrut supervisor of Isfahan.

8) Providing full spiritual and material support to the Jewish schools of Tehran; complete renovation of the Kanoon-e Farhangi va Honari, i.e. “The Jewish Cultural, Artistic and Social Center”; re-activating the Sports Committee in Tehran; and participating in the International Book Exhibition, Tehran, after a several-year interruption.

Dr. Homayoun Sameyah believes that the Tehran Jewish Association is obligated to follow the duties of the previous Administrations in resolving the issues. Moreover, as the Chair of the Association, he has assigned top priority to the opinions and demands of the community in guiding his agenda. Thus, aided by the collaboration of his fellow Board members and other caring members of the community, he has managed to fulfill many of his responsibilities. One particular case in point was the matter of the Jewish Clerical Authority, which received much of his personal attention and productive efforts.

In 2015 C.E., 1394 P.C., Dr. Homayoun Sameyah announced his candidacy for the Jewish seat in the Tenth Islamic Parliamentary elections, but he could not win against his opponent, Dr. Siamak Moreh-Sedegh.

To address one of his most important and persistent concerns as the Chair of the Association, Dr. Homayoun Sameyah has unceasingly aimed to preserve the ancient identity and culture of the Jewish community of Iran. Thus, by establishing close ties with the government and figures of the state, he has done his best to resolve the challenges and remove the obstacles that faced the Iranian Jewish community. He has aimed to distribute his attention to address and follow up on the demands of all sectors of the Jewish community. In particular, he has dealt with the problems generated for the Jewish holy sites; certain issues in the law of qessas i.e. the Iranian code of punitive retributions; providing security and protection for the Jewish shrines, synagogues, and other Jewish cultural heritage sites across Iran, including sites located in the Guilliard area near Tehran, as well as those in such other cities as Urmieh, Mash-had, Abadan, etc.

Dr. Homayoun Sameyah’s tenure at the helm of the Jewish Association was marked by the passing of the late Chacham Yousef “Joseph” Hamedani-Cohen, the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community of Iran, in 2014 C.E., 1393 P.C. By the emphatic approval of the Chair of the Association, and with the budget provided by the family of the deceased, the engineering team of the Real-Estate Committee of the Jewish Association designed and built a beautiful structure, inspired by the traditional Persian architecture, to mark the shrine of the late Chacham, located at the Beheshtieh “Eden” Jewish Cemetery of Tehran.

As the winter of 2016 C.E., 1394 P.C., was coming to an end, the Bagh-e Saba Synagogue, for years the late Chacham Yousef Hamedani-Cohen’s Synagogue, collapsed and was fully destroyed due to apparent wear and tear. Immediately following the incident, Dr. Homayoun Sameyah, the Chair of the Tehran Jewish Association, requested the Iranian Judiciary experts to follow up on the case and investigate the main reasons for the destruction of the synagogue. He further put forth a plan to build a modern synagogue in the stead of the one ruined, which was received the approval of the Board of the Association. In the meantime, a temporary synagogue has been set up in the courtyard of the old synagogue to be used by the Jewish community of the Bagh-e Saba neighborhood.


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