Iranian Jewish Culure
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Ebrahim Saeedian
Masters of Literature

Ebrahim Saeedian


Ebrahim “Abraham” Saeedian, also known by his nom de plume “Arya”, was born in 1951 C.E., 1330 of the Persian Calendar, henceforth P.C., to a Jewish family of the artistically nurturing city of Isfahan, Iran. His father Baroukh Saeedian was a merchant at the Chahar-Bagh “Four-Gardens” Square, who for years traded in handicraft. His mother, an artistic, well‑read, and gifted woman with a refined taste, was a prolific poet. It was she who taught the young Ebrahim to love and create poetry, and who thus passed on her ancestral cultural heritage to her son.

Ebrahim Saeedian studied at the Ettehad “Alliance” Elementary of Isfahan. In 1964 C.E., 1343 P.C., he moved to Tehran with his family, where he graduated from the Ettehad High School of Tehran. He spent two years in the national service, after which he was rapidly absorbed into the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, joining his father in business.

Ebrahim Saeedian began his social activities as a young man when he joined the Chalutz Organization. Before long, in a joint effort, he and few friends founded Khaneh‑ye Javanan‑e Yahoud, i.e. the Jewish Youth Club, in the Oudlajan Jewish Neighborhood of Tehran. They met next to the Tekkyeh Station, at a two-room place on the second floor, above a kerosene fuel distribution branch. Three years later, as the Hatef Youth Organization was founded under Dr. Azizeh Bral’s supervision, Ebrahim Saeedian was asked to join in running the new organization.

Ebrahim Saeedian displayed his creative talents first in high school, when he presented his poetry and other literary pieces. Concurrently, his friends asked him to write for the journal of the Jewish Youth Club, as well. Later on, he was also assigned to the Arts and Festivities Committee of the said Club.

Ever since a young man, Ebrahim Saeedian was passionate to compose poetry. He spent his spare time studying the Persian art of prosody, known as the arooz, and reading the collected works of the great poets, known as divans. Encouraged by family and guided by his uncle Nejatollah Cohen — himself a poet and the author of the book Zaraban-e Ghalb or “The Heartbeat” — he was stirred to devote more time to learning the art of writing poetry with diligence and determination. He attended literary chambers and poetry nights. He participated in lessons offered by masters of the culture and well-known poets. And he kept gaining more and more experience. Reciting his own poetry had a pleasant impact on literature and poetry enthusiasts.

Soon enough, the Hamedanis of the Capital Association published the sonnets and other poems by Saeedian in a beautiful volume, which was provided to those with an interest in the authentic Persian art. Also, beginning in 2004 C.E., 1383 P.C., his poetry was regularly published in the Ebrar newspaper and Ofogh-e Bina or “The Horizon of Wisdom”, a.k.a. Binah periodical.

In 1979 C.E., 1358 P.C., Ebrahim Saeedian married his future wife Shahnaz Lahijani. The couple brought a son and a daughter to the world.

 

Among his cultural activities, in 2001 C.E., 1380 P.C., Ebrahim Saeedian was invited by the late Dr. Ebrahim Bral, the President of the Kanoon‑e Farhangi, Honari va Ejtema’i — i.e. the Iranian Jewish Cultural, Artistic and Social Center — to collaborate with the organization. A year into his active membership, Saeedian was admitted into the Board of Directors of the Kanoon, which he served for two terms as the Vice President. After the passing of Dr. Bral, Saeedian was elected as the President of the Kanoon. Among his most significant steps at this cultural center, Saeedian created a Marriage Foundation overseen by himself, which soon produced some remarkable results. Subsequently, along the same path, he created a Philanthropic Fund, as well, for the said organization.

In 2001 C.E., 1380 P.C., as a member of the Kanoon-e Farhangi “Cultural Center”, Ebrahim Saeedian welcomed Master Abdollah Tale’- Hamedani at the Kanoon upon the famed poet’s return from a journey. The opening verse of Saeedian’s original salute presented at the occasion roughly translates as follows:

“My fortune told me that Tale’ had come back from his journey!
The pride of literature, the gold and the jewel, has thus returned!”

This poem fomented the friendship of the two men; and subsequently, Mr. Tale’‑Hamedani took Saeedian as a student. Shortly afterwards, Saeedian had learned the rules and principles of writing poetry at the school of this free-spirited and artistic poet. Also, he studied for years at the school of Dr. Bassim Berjis, another master of the art, learning much and mastering the art and craft of poetry. He further learned much about this art at the school of Dr. Amir-Houshang Shafa.

Besides his social activities, Ebrahim Saeedian participated in the literary chambers, poetry nights and literary associations, especially the Poetess Parvin E’tessami Association, The Guardians of Poetry and Literature Association, and the State and Army Veterans Association, thus earning himself a special niche on the poetry stage as a national and authoritative poet from a monotheistic religious minority. He didn’t come near imitation, and he never went beyond the perimeters of traditional poetry. His output mostly follows the Mathnavi or the Epic poetry with roots in the Khorasani style.

Over the years, Saeedian spent much of his literary studies on the works of such famed poets as Hafez and Ferdowsi with their original styles. He has also studied in depth the Jewish poets of Iran, particularly Shahin, Omrani, and Babayi Ben Lotf, and many others, who had created works in the mathnavi form. Drawing on the greatest figures of the Persian literature and poetry, he has created works with evident patriotic feelings and nationalistic sentiments. Roughly translated, they include such original epic and patriotic poems as The Persian Gulf, I Shall Sacrifice My Life for the Homeland, The Martyrs at the Heart of History, and more.

In 2007 C.E., 1386 P.C., during the 15th Book Exhibition organized by the Islamic Guidance Ministry, Saeedian’s poem The Persian Gulf was much praised by the experts and literary figures. Hence, besides the words of encouragement, the Guidance Ministry endowed Ebrahim Saeedian with awards and a Certificate of Appreciation. Later, on other occasions organized by the Jewish community, Saeedian was further praised by such prominent figures and institutions as the Jewish Representative in the Ninth Islamic Parliament, the Board of Directors of the Tehran Jewish Association, the Ofogh-e Binah “Horizon of Wisdom” periodical, and other enlightened figures of the Jewish community of Iran. Thence, he has received many awards and plaques of appreciation.

Ebrahim Saeedian believes that God the Almighty has endowed him with the gift to create poetry, and therefore, he has put his gift and passion into glorifying the Omnipotent and promoting monotheism. To that end, in 2009 C.E., 1388 P.C., after three years of intensive and relentless efforts, he recast into Persian verse several sections of the Pentateuch i.e. the Torah, and its commentaries, including in particular those of Genesis and Exodus. The result was published in a volume entitled Torat‑e Manzoum, i.e. the Torah in Poetry. In his introduction, the poet dedicates the book to the grand souls of his gracious father Baruch Ben Aharon and his selfless mother Saltanat Bat Hadji-Ezra Cohen, who had been the shining lights of his darkest days.

To emphasize, Ebrahim Saeedian has transplanted from prose into dramatic poetry a selection of facts and events as reported in the Holy Torah, in a particular way and to the point of perfection. Aided by his sound and refined taste, he has molded masterfully the mystical content of these selections, without omission and from the mouth of God, into the mathnavi form of the Persian poetry. As a result, the reader influenced by the work finds himself momentarily in a spiritual and dreamful space, seeing himself at those distant times and places, as if he were present where the Moses conversed with God.

Recently, Ebrahim Saeedian has been composing other epic, romantic and religious poems in the form of mathnavi, the most significant of which has been transplanting the Psalms a.k.a. the Canticles of David, into Persian poetry. So far, several of the Psalms have been completed, and the poet plans to publish the completed project in yet another divan of poetry.