Iranian Jewish Culure
Yousef Pirouzian
Philanthropists and Community Leaders

Yousef Pirouzian


Yousef  Pirouzian was born in 1912 C.E., 1291 of the Persian Calendar, henceforth P.C., to a religious Jewish family of Tehran, Iran. His father Asher owned a store in the vicinity of the Oudlajan neighborhood, a.k.a. the Jewish ghetto of Tehran, where he traded in valuable stones, turquoise in particular.

Yosef Pirouzian studied at the Ettehad “Alliance” Elementary of Tehran, and he went on to graduate from the famed Darol-Founoon Technical High School. Along the way, he studied Jewish religious subjects, including the halachah or the Jewish religious law, at the traditional school of the renowned Chacham Haim Moreh. In 1936 C.E., 1315 P.C., he completed his undergraduate studies in Jurisprudence and Political Science, followed by a Doctorate in Economics from Tehran University. After fulfilling the national service, he was appointed immediately by the City of Tehran to serve as the Mayor of the 12th District, i.e. the Oudlajan and Pa-Menar neighborhoods.

Alongside his professional career, Yousef  Pirouzian started out his social activities first by collaborating with the Jewish Philanthropic Association.

Among his significant contributions, he followed through with the ambitious plan of paving the Cyrus Street, later Mostafa Khomeini St., the first such project to take place in the 12th District of Tehran. The success of the project had remarkably positive consequences for the residents of the Oudlajan neighborhood.

During his mayorship, the Khavaran Beheshtieh “Eden” Jewish Cemetery met with severe draught, a dry and dire situation which put the green life of the cemetery seriously at risk. As one of his many invaluable services over the years, Yousef Pirouzian drew upon his professional status, and he relentlessly followed through the required bureaucratic procedures at the City in order to create a well and two cisterns to irrigate the said Jewish cemetery. The quest was finally realized when the Qajar Princess Fakhroddoleh, the mother of Prime Minister Ali Amini, endorsed the plan.

In the springtime of 1941 C.E. the early days of 1320 P.C., Dr.  “Yousef” Pirouzian resigned his post as the Mayor of the 12th District. Then together with his brother, he co-founded a company in the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, and they set out to import medicinal products. As the flames of World War II were rising to the sky, the capital of the country, and especially the Oudlajan Jewish neighborhood, were faced with the intensifying threat of dangerous epidemics of contagious diseases, such as typhus, typhoid and the plague. As such, Joseph Pirouzian devoted the core of his import activities to those medication which were in demand at the time, including Penicillin and other antibiotics — and he thus saved thousands of infected people from certain death. Also, for a long while afterwards, some of the medication needed at Kanoon-e Kheyr-Khah and many of the other medical centers of the country were supplied through Yousef  Pirouzian’s company.

In 1943 C.E., 1322 P.C., Kanoon-e Kheyr-Khah i.e. “The Jewish Philanthropy Center” was established. As the new building of the Center went into operation, Dr. “Yousef” Pirouzian was admitted to the Board of Directors of the Philanthropy Center, and he was then appointed as the first Chairman of the Board. With much indefatigable effort, he personally followed through the required legal procedures to register the Jewish Philanthropy medical center, the seed of the Dr. Sapir Hospital, as an official institution with the State. For more than a decade afterwards, he served sincerely in that capacity, alongside the medical staff of the Center. He was in charge of the logistics of the institution, and he carried out the bureaucratic and legal affairs of the organization with excellence, throughout which he expressed in action his devotion to the Jewish community of Tehran. Also for years, together with some fellow Jewish philanthropists, he served the public caringly as a member of the Board of Directors of Anjoman‑e Kou-ye Mahalleh, i.e. the Oudlajan Neighborhood Alley Association.

In 1947 C.E., 1326 P.C.,  “Yousef” Pirouzian married his future wife Rosa Shoushanah “Susannah” Tehrani. The couple brought two sons and four daughters to the world. In appreciation for his services, the Philanthropy Center bestowed to him the gift of a silver vase.

In 1981 C.E., 1360 P.C., in the aftermath of the 1979 C.E. Islamic Revolution in Iran, Dr.  “Yousef” Pirouzian yielded to unwanted emigration. Thus, he left his homeland for the United States, where he joined his family in the New York City. By then in the age of retirement, he nevertheless resumed his socio-cultural activities, searching for the grounds to connect to the other Iranians.

In 1984 C.E., with the collaboration of Shemouel “Samuel” Shamsian, Yousef Pirouzian prepared and published the Persian translation from Hebrew of the siddurim, that is, the Jewish prayer books, for the Selichot and Rosh Hashanah occasions. Next, in 1986 C.E., he prepared and published the Persian translation of the book Birkat Cohanim, at his own personal expense, which he provided to his fellow Jewish people. Furthermore, beginning in 1988 C.E., as yet another cultural contribution, Yousef  Pirouzian published the Menorah periodical.

Altogether, for years and decades, until the last moments of his fruitful life, he was busy carrying out socio-cultural activities with relentless industry. The publication of Menorah in his later years for the Persian-speaking community in exile, as well as organizing various cultural and religious gatherings, these were among the many remarkable services carved into the résumé of the cultural activities of this erudite figure.

Dr.  “Yousef” Pirouzian realized one of his most significant dreams when he founded and launched the Iranian Jewish Central Synagogue Foundation of New York, a project that chiefly materialized thanks to his unwavering resolve. He also donated one-thousand copies of the book Birkat Cohanim to the Jewish Central organization. Furthermore, he endowed his personal library, which amounted to more than 300 valuable scientific, historical and religious volumes, to the said organization.

 “Yousef” Pirouzian passed away in 1991 C.E., 1370 P.C., at the age of 79, in exile, due to cancer.


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