These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

A Letter to Iran…

Posted on April 21, 2013 by Joseph Shamash

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One Wish Jerusalem was inspired by a video made by an Iranian filmmaker Ali Molavi.
To see his video click here.

This is the letter I sent him and his subsequent response after seeing our video:

Salam Ali,

A few months ago, a friend forwarded me your video asking people in the streets of Tehran about a wish and it truly inspired me.

After years in Iran, my parents decided to leave their country and move to the US in the hopes of a new life and a brighter future for their children.

I was born in Dallas, Texas just a year after the Islamic Revolution as one of the only Jewish families in our neighborhood.

For many years, I struggled to relate with both my Persian and Jewish heritages. As a child, I remember hearing my father yelling at the TV during the nightly news seeing how the country he loved and served as a medic in the army had changed so radically, so quickly. I knew I didn’t want to be Iranian, so I tried my best to be a “good American.”

Still, I knew I was different. I was Jewish.

No matter how hard I tried, I never fully felt “American” and couldn’t shake the clutches of my roots on my identity.

That struggle eventually led me to Israel and Jerusalem specifically, where I have been living for the past year, trying to understand how Judaism relates to my life, my family, and my future.

Caught up in countries that are often misunderstood and whose citizens are sometimes subject to their respective leaders own political games, your film cuts beyond the surface and humanizes the people of Tehran.

A conversation at a street corner.

A man on his way back from the grocery store.

A young couple on a stroll, hoping to plan out a future together.

Asking a simple question that penetrates to the core of our shared humanity.

A simple yet profound question that gives a real voice to daily life in Iran.

My goal was to recreate that sentiment here in Jerusalem.

Who knows, maybe these films, these conversations and WISHES can actually help bridge the gap between Iran and Israel. And just maybe we can all move a little closer to a long lasting peace.

I hope you enjoy the video and I look forward to hearing from you.
Joseph Shamash

His response:

Salam Joseph my good friend. I watched the film you made and it had a great impact on me. I really wanted to make a movie like this in Israel so that people would know that we do not have many differences from one another.

I would really like to show these videos in places together so people feel this closeness more.

From the bottom of my heart, I say that getting to know you is my pleasure.

Be in touch with me.

Behtarin Arezoo ha
(best wishes)