Norman “Nourollah” Gabay was born in 1929 C.E., 1308 of the Persian Calendar, henceforth P.C., to Mr. Morad Gabay and Lady Morvarid Shoraka, in the Sar-Peleh neighborhood of Kashan, Iran.
Norman Gabay studied at the Agha Yeghoutiel a.k.a. Alliance “Ettehad” Elementary School of Kashan. No older than 13, he moved with his family to Tehran, where he began work immediately at a company. Besides work, he took late-evening courses at the Alborz and Arya Schools, graduating high school in 1948 C.E., 1327 P.C.
After seven years of working as an employee, he opened his own company to do business independently. Given his earned popularity and credit, and thanks to his honesty in business, he fast climbed the ladder of success and gained many remarkable achievements in various aspects of commerce.
With relentless efforts, Norman Gabay first founded a workshop for the production of blankets and wall-to-wall carpets. Next, he founded the first factory for the production of plastic rugs at the location of Alborz Industrial City. He then aimed at producing various products to meet the domestic demand, and thus, he created Tatami, a much larger unit for the production of wall-to-wall carpets, and later on, blankets. Remarkably, he managed to reach mass production even as he maintained the production quality at the international standards. Having saturated the domestic market, he went on to export his products to the neighboring countries, including the Persian Gulf states. Thence, he was recorded in the annals of Iranian commerce as a non-oil exporter of the mid-1960’s C.E.
Beginning in the 1960’s C.E., he decided to expand and develop his production activities and to bring the latest technological breakthroughs to his production units in Iran. To that end, he made several trips to the advanced industrial countries, such as those of Europe, the United States and Australia.
In 1953 C.E., 1332 P.C., Norman “Nourollah” Gabay married his future wife Mahboubeh Chadorchi, the daughter of Rahim Chadorchi. The couple brought three sons to the world, all of whom received higher education.
Norman Gabay was always concerned with providing the best education possible for his children. He believed that this has been a century of knowledge and science, and that to have bright futures, the youngsters must ascend the ladders of higher education within advanced and healthy environments. Therefore, as he traveled around the globe, he looked for a suitable environment for the education of his children. After much up-close investigation, he chose the United States among several other candidate states. In 1971 C.E., he received the family Green Card, and seven years later, he immigrated to the United States together with his family, where in 1978 C.E., they finally settled in Los Angeles. Having put his life in order then in exile, Norman Gabay seized upon the first opportunity to establish a factory for the production of plastic rugs. Two years later, however, his venture failed due to competition from similar Chinese products, and thus, he had to close down his production unit.
Before long, he began to invest in the real-estate, and several years later, aided by his sons, he expanded into construction projects. And shortly afterwards, he had achieved much remarkable success.
Norman “Nourollah” Gabay began his cultural activities at the age of 15, when he attended the meetings of Tofigh satirical weekly. Relying on the support of his friend and relative Nourollah “Nouri” Kharrazi (1921–2014 C.E., 1300-1393 P.C.) the humorist of the Jewish community of Kashan, he offered from time to time a satirical article of his own, which showcased his talents in the field.
Years later, by then having immigrated to the United States, he published his essays on social issues, spiced up and sprinkled with humor, in the Persian language publications outside Iran. Norman Gabay touched upon the multitude of problems that his people were dealing with in exile, a situation that was going to eventually overshadow their authentic historical and cultural identity. As such, he decided to join some nonprofit social and public service organizations, hoping to do what he could to resolve the issues which faced the Iranian Jewish community.
In 1986 C.E., Norman Gabay, together with few other philanthropists of the community, co-founded the Magbit Foundation of Los Angeles, a non-profit organization aimed at assisting the academic students. He went on to serve the Foundation for nine years, as its Chief Executive Director, and later, as a member of its Board of Directors. His efforts during this period left a remarkably positive impact on his fellow Jewish people. He was the first to introduce the interest‑free honorable student loan, which has been offered ever since by the Magbit Foundation to the qualifying academic students of little means.
In the mid-1990’s C.E., Norman Gabay joined the Center for the Iranian Jewish Oral History, CIJOH, as a Cultural Advisor, at which capacity he carried out many fruitful efforts. Before then, beginning in 1983, he had joined the late Manouchehr Ghodsian to aid in the settlement of the Iranian Jewish immigrants, offering much remarkable assistance personally to help the newcomers take root in the unfamiliar environment of the United States. He was thus elected as an outstanding member of the Board of Directors of the Iranian American Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, IAJF, and awhile later, he was made a member of the Board of Trustees of the said organization.
In 1990 C.E., Norman “Nourollah” Gabay founded a nonprofit cultural organization to honor and preserve the memory of Agha Yeghoutiel, the founder of the Agha Yeghoutiel Alliance “Ettehad” School of Kashan at the beginning of the 20th century C.E., where he had received his elementary education. He has also submitted considerable sums in aids to the Bikkur Cholim Hospital and the Sha’areh Tzedek Medical Center, in the Holy Land. In recognition of his invaluable and meritorious humanitarian services, many of the nonprofit and cultural organizations of Los Angeles, among them, the Eretz Cultural Center and the Hadassah Women’s Organization, have enlisted him as an honorary member of their Board of Directors or the Board of Trustees.
Sadly, in 2003 C.E., Norman Gabay all too soon lost his eldest son Kamran “Raphael” Gabay, merely 48, to an incurable illness. This tragic and untimely incident left a bitter impact on Norman’s life, so far as he stopped writing for a long while. Once he resumed to write, his writing had been evidently transformed in style and tone, especially when it came to compose articles on the social issues.
Norman Gabay has published more than 100 articles so far on social, religious and historical subjects. His writing has in large part addressed rationality versus regression, even as the author invites his audience, perhaps captives of prejudice, bigotry and superstition, to shatter the habit of tradition. In 2009 C.E., Norman Gabay published a collection of his articles, including a discussion of how the religious education had been conducted, and how it should be conducted, in the age of science, in a volume entitled Lahazati Bara-ye Tafakkor, i.e. “Moments To Think”. The English translation of the work soon followed under An Invitation to Reason.
Norman “Nourollah” Gabay has been enjoying retirement in the more recent years. Nevertheless, he carries on his voluntary socio-cultural public service as before. And as he attends most meetings in this regard, he manifests his love of, and loyalty toward, the authentic Iranian Jewish culture. Recently, together with Mr. Haroun Soroudi, and joined by the Research Studies Center of Iranian Jews, the umbrella organization of 7Dorim, he collected and published a glossary of the Iranian Jewish dialect of Kashan, largely rooted in the community’s colloquial language, and which reflected their particular customs and traditions. The book was published in a manuscript format, entitled The Thousand Words: A Dictionary of the Kashi Jewish Dialect. And it has been since provided as a cultural service to those interested in the history and culture of the Jews of Kashan. All profit earned from the sale of the volume has been endowed to the 7Dorim.com project.
Also, for the past many years, Norman “Nourollah” Gabay has provided his writings through his personal website “Baba Nouri”, which can be reached at www.BabaNouri.com.
An Interview With Norman “Nourollah” Gabay for 7Dorim: Part I (Video)
An Interview With Norman “Nourollah” Gabay for 7Dorim: Part II (Video)