Jadidim: The Extraordinary Story of a Hidden Jewish Community in Persia Daniel Fishman Author
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I consider this essay, devoted to the Jews of Mashhad, to be an extremely important historical document, in that it is the first to be written and published in Italian.The fascinating, indeed legendary, tale of the Mashhadi Jewish community from its genesis to the present day is well-known among historians and most of the Sephardic communities spread throughout the world, as well as featuring at the Museum of the Diaspora in Tel Aviv. It has not, however, received a great deal of attention outside these spheres.Our story, passed down (usually orally) from father to son or from grandfather to grandson, is like a modern fable in which every matter, event or banal everyday event has been imbued with magic and poetry. But in reality it was a story of ordeal and suffering - borne, however, with such forbearance that it could be overcome. Poverty, rather than being a source of suffering, became inspiration, a spur to unity and mutual aid. Wealth, on the other hand, rather than being flaunted, was seen as a blessing bestowed on those who were able to help those in need.Honesty and truth are not a means, but an end. Respect for the family and its values is not a burden to be borne but a pleasure. Differing opinions are not a reason for conflict, but a treasure to be exploited.The cultural legacy that has come down to us might seem romantic, anachronistic and out of sync with the modern world. I can personally attest, however, with the utmost conviction, as to how the Mashhadi Family, today dotted around between Israel and New York (with a little colony in Milan), has been able to channel all these values into our DNA, adapting them to modern times. Creating a state of mind that informs all our actions and thoughts.Despite the diversity that is a natural feature of such a large community and the new challenges that globalization poses nowadays, thanks to these qualities, we have remained a close-knit community, no matter where we might find ourselves.Today almost all young Mashhadi in the world go to university, some have achieved prestigious academic positions at world level, or become successful businessmen, lawyers or other professionals. This all bears witness to how important the evolution of our community has been. If, as emerges in the book, culture and knowledge could once be viewed with fear, since they could be a source of danger or suspicion on the part of their Muslim neighbors, now they play a part in reasserting our collective identity. Success for an individual betokens success for us all. Many thanks to our Community members for their contribution to this book and to the sterling work that they continue to carry out every day in the world. It is my wish that all my Mashhadi brethren (myself included) will hand down this wonderful story to posterity and will succeed in passing on all the moral principles associated with it. (RAV Davide Nassimiha)


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