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A majority of the Jews--as well as a good number of the Catholics--in the United States are descendants of European immigrants who came to the United States in the early part of the 20th Century.
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According to Shiite doctrine, Jews and other non-Shiite minorities were considered ritually impure, and any physical contact with them or with materials they touched was to be shunned.
This meant that Iranian Jews could no longer pursue their traditional professions.
Fifty years later, King Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon and granted religious freedom to the Jews in his kingdom.
Over the centuries, Persian Jews survived a succession of upheavals—the Arab-Muslim conquest in the 7th century CE, the Mongol invasion in the 13th century and the establishment of Shiite Islam as the state religion in the 16th century, resulting in restrictive laws and harsh conditions for Jews and other religious minorities.
ews have lived in Persia, now Iran, for nearly three millennia.
The first Jewish community dates back to the early 6th century BCE, when the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judea and exiled many of its inhabitants.
A section of the show focuses on this community and includes elaborate garments for child brides, who were betrothed at an early age to avoid marriages to Muslims later in life, and pairs of beautifully illuminated marriage contracts—a Jewish version in Hebrew and a Muslim version in Persian.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, conditions gradually improved for Jews in Iran, but that situation came to an abrupt end with the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
“I would be interested how to see how many Jews who intermarry with Catholics attend synagogue,” says Crohn.
“For some couples, it is that religiosity that some people see as a conflict, but it often it is a bridge.” Traditional proximity between Jews and Catholics is a result of parallel immigration patterns, explains Rabbi Blecher.
In the mid-1800s, the Jews living in the city of Mashhad were forced to convert to Islam.