Vandals Attack, Rob Iran Synagogue, Desecrate Torah Scrolls

A synagogue in the Iranian city of Shiraz was vandalized on Sunday night, The Israel National News reports. Sources confirmed to the website that the Hadash Synagogue, located in the Maleh neighborhood of Shiraz, was found vandalized.

The sources said two Torah scrolls were destroyed by the vandals. In addition, prayer books were found in the bathroom, many of them placed in the toilets. While it is difficult to receive accurate information from Iran, YWN was informed that police are investigating the incident.

“It should be noted that this incident is quite unusual in Iran,” the sources said. It is not clear when the desecration was discovered.

Jews have been living in Iran for more than 3,000 years. Today, the vast majority of Persian Jews live in Israel and the United States, especially in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills the North Shore of Long Island and Brooklyn.

Iran’s Jewish population was reduced from 100,000–150,000 in 1948 to about 80,000 immediately before the Iranian Revolution, due mostly to immigration to Israel. While immigration to Israel had slowed in the 1970s and the Jewish population of Iran had stabilized, the majority of Iran’s remaining Jews left the country in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Shah.

In the 2000s, the Jewish population of Iran was estimated by most sources to be 25,000, making it the largest Jewish community in any country in the Middle East outside of Israel, though estimates varied, with some as low as 17,000 by 2010 and as high as 40,000 in 1998.

However, the official census in August 2012 indicated that there were only 8,756 Jews still living in Iran. Notable population centers include Tehran, Isfahan (1,200), and Shiraz. Historically, Jews maintained a presence in many more Iranian cities. Jews are protected in the Iranian constitution and allowed one seat in the Majlis (Iranian parliament).

While Iranian Jews say they “have an easy life,” and that “the government does not create problems for us”, experts believe that Iranian leaders are doing everything they can to display their country’s Jewish population as satisfied, even if they have to resort to fakery to do so.