Iranian Jewish Culure
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Simon Sion Ebrahimi
Philanthropists and Community Leaders

Simon Sion Ebrahimi


 

Sion “Simon” Ebrahimi was born in 1937 C.E., 1316 of the Persian Calendar, henceforth P.C., to a religious Jewish family of the Jubareh “Jewbareh” neighborhood, the Jewish ghetto of Isfahan, Iran. His father Morad Ebrahimi was a trusted member of the Bazaar of Isfahan, who for more than 20 years, in partnership with his older brother, carried out business in the two cities of Rasht, in the northern Iran, and Isfahan. His mother Tavous “Peacock” Chachamimi, a graduate of Nursing and Obstetrics, opened a practice at home after she had gotten married, and began work as a midwife.

With the rise of the Pahlavi Dynasty, a freer space was opened before the religious minorities of Iran. Sion Ebrahimi was 6 years old, when his father bought them a house outside the Jubareh neighborhood and moved his family to the center of the city, behind the Masjid-e Shah “The King’s Mosque” of Isfahan. According to Sion, the move, on the one hand, liberated them from a miserable life in the ghetto, which by the 20th century standards, had been just about a notch above a caveman’s life — although to be fair, the relations among the Jewish people of Jubareh were full of kindness and love. On the other hand, it deprived him of an education at the Ettehad “Alliance” School of the city.

Sion Ebrahimi studied at the Shams Elementary. As a Jewish minority student, he wasn’t required to attend the Quran and Islamic Tradition classes. Nevertheless, given his interest in the Persian literature and his curiosity toward the religion of Islam, he preferred to attend those classes like the rest of the students, and he learned to recite the Quran very well. In 1954 C.E., 1333 P.C., he graduated from the Adab High School. Shortly afterwards, he and his family had moved to Tehran.

Following graduation from high school, Sion Ebrahimi left the country to pursue his academic studies in the Great Britain. In 1961 C.E., 1340 P.C., having earned his Master’s Degrees in Economics and Accounting, he returned to his homeland, where he was immediately employed by Coopers and Lybrand, one of the greatest international business and financial companies in the world. Due to his meritorious work and good will, his career advanced fast. With years of service behind him, and having earned much useful experience, he managed to join the handful of the partners at the Iranian branch of the company. Within merely 20 years, thanks to his and his partners’ ambitious industry at this trusted international institution, the number of the employees at the Iranian branch of Coopers and Lybrand had risen from 8 to 500.

 

In 1962 C.E., 1341 P.C., Sion Ebrahimi married his future wife Nahid Ra’een. The couple brought two daughters to the world, both of whom have received higher education.

 

In 1980 C.E., 1979 P.C., Sion Ebrahimi immigrated to the United States. Having settled in Los Angeles, he began first to run his own business. In 1982 C.E., after much effort, he was appointed as a Director at the American Express, where he continued to serve until retirement.

In 1982 C.E., Sion Ebrahimi began his socio-cultural activities in Los Angeles. He first joined in as a member of the Iranian American Jewish Federation of L.A., IAJF. Besides helping the Federation toward its goals, his love of collecting the tales of Iranian Jewish life drove him to join the Shofar Magazine of Los Angeles, a publication of the IAJF, to which he contributed his articles on social issues. This provided a chance to present his efforts in writing, a passions of his since the days of youth. Before long, he was appointed as the Chief Editor of the Shofar. He then continued his cultural activities until 1998 C.E. During that period, he molded his notes into historical and social essays, as well as short stories, which remembered the bitter past of the Jubareh neighborhood of Isfahan. Later, he published some of his articles in several other publications based in Europe, including Rouzegar-e Nou “The Modern Times” of Paris.

As a member of the Board of Trustees of the IAJF, Sion Ebrahimi has played an active role in the social and cultural affairs of his compatriots in exile. Furthermore, he has spent some time at the Jam-e Jam TV channel of Los Angeles, as well as Radio Iran, L.A., offering critical reviews of the social conditions of the Iranians in exile.

Sion Ebrahimi is a traditional author with a personal style, for whom the Iranian Jewish history and culture have remained paramount preoccupations. In 2014 C.E., he published his first work in English entitled Veiled Romance: A Persian Tale of Passion and Revolution (Ebrahimi, Simon Sion, 2011). The story revolves around the love between two young Jews in the heat of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and in effect, it’s a chronicle of what the author experienced at the time. Though his first attempt at the novel genre, the book has achieved remarkable success especially among its English-speaking readers.

In 2016 C.E., Sion Ebrahimi published his second book, a novel in Persian entitled Hekayat-hay-e Koucheh-ye Yāzdah Pich, which he released alongside his own English translation, entitled Reuben the Rhino: Tales of the Alley of Eleven Twists (Ebrahimi, Simon Sion, 2016). In an interview, he stated that the book was the outcome of a decade worth of research, provided in two languages to those interested in the Iranian Jewish history and culture, those of the Jews of Isfahan, in particular. Throughout his works, the author has tried to analyze, criticize and reflect the Jewish life and circumstances of the time, via an understanding of the language and sensibilities of those periods.

Accordingly, Sion Ebrahimi’s writings originate in the soul and life of his people and of his birthplace, and they stand as the true symbols of the beliefs, fears, hopes and dreams of his generation. In his second novel, Reuben the Rhino: Tales of the Alley of Eleven Twists, for instance, he has put into words the nostalgia and sorrows of being away from the embrace of the mother, who albeit wasn’t kind at all times. The story is written in a delicate and poetic prose, with an understanding of the many aspects of the subject and an appreciation of life’s deepest thoughts and meanings.

As an author of the people, and in the role of a histographer of the tales of the Iranian Jewish ghettos and their residents, Simon Sion Ebrahimi has succeeded to capture a portion of the stories of the ancient and endangered Jewish community of Iran. And thus, he has become known as one of the best guardians of the art of relating the traditional life of his people.

 

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