Rising to the occasionRising to the occasion

Tehran Jews begin making matzah

As Passover festival approaches, Jewish community in Iran prepares traditional unleavened bread

Video has emerged of Iranian Jews preparing for the upcoming Passover festival by baking matzah, the unleavened bread that is the key traditional food eaten during the festival.

The video, published by the Kikar Hashabat website last week, shows several members of the Tehran community manning a small matzah-baking production line.

Strict religious rules govern the method and baking time for matzah to ensure that the bread doesn’t rise, producing instead flat, wafer-thin, brittle loaves.

Similar baking sessions are held in Jewish communities around the world in the runup to Passover, which begins this year on Friday night, April 22. The seven-day festival celebrates the exodus of the Jewish nation from slavery in Egypt over 3,000 years ago.

Iran had between 80,000 and 100,000 Jews before the 1979 Islamic revolution but most have since fled, mainly to the United States, Israel and Europe. There are now only about 8,500 people left, mostly in Tehran but also in Isfahan and Shiraz, major cities south of the capital.

Many Iranian Jews complain they are not treated equally under the law, Homayoun Sameyah Najaf Abadi, the head of Tehran’s Jewish community and a doctor at Tehran’s Jewish Hospital, said in 2015.

With one designated member of parliament, Iran’s Jewish community is one of three officially recognized religious minorities. Armenian Christians have two designated MPs, and Assyrian-Chaldeans and Zoroastrians have one each.


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