This article was first published in The Times of Israel.
It’s hard to look away from the piercing gaze of the girl in the photograph on the cover of Saba Soomekh’s book, “From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women Between Religion and Culture.” The photograph is of Soomekh’s great-grandmother as a 12-year-old bride in Iran, and it makes you wonder whether she is somehow looking into the future, amazed at just how different her great-granddaughter’s life is from her own.
Soomekh, the 37-year-old great-granddaughter of the child bride, is a theological studies professor at Los Angeles’ Loyola Marymount University and one of only a small number of researchers who focus on the Iranian Jewish community.
She has a BA from Berkeley, a Masters from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She’s a member of the Iran Task Force for the American Jewish Committee and a member of Los Angeles’ Human Resource Commission. PBS employed her expertise in producing its 2012 “The Iranian Americans” program. The same year, the Fowler Museum at UCLA appointed her project coordinator for its “Light and Shadows” exhibition on Iranian Jews.
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© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.