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The Jewish Community of Mashhad

Mashhad

Farsi: مشهد‎‎ ; Turkish: Meshed

A city in Iran

Mashhad is the second most populous city in Iran, and the capital of the Razavi Khorasan Province. The city is located near Iran’s borders with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. The eighth imam of the Shi’ites, Ali-Reza, is buried in Mashhad.

After Nadir Shah Afshar’s war with India, he brought a number of spoils back to Iran and stored them near Mashhad. As a Sunni Muslim, Nadir Shah did not trust the Shi’ites of Mashhad to guard his treasures. As a result, in 1740 he ordered that 40 Jewish families be relocated to the city of Kazvin to Mashhad and the areas surrounding. Though Jews were prohibited from living in the holy city itself, they established a community outside of the wall. Under his protection the small community began to flourish, and attracted increasing numbers of Jews from other communities in Persia. With the assassination of Nadir Shah in 1747, however, the Jews of Mashhad were exposed to violence and persecution, and their situation became more precarious.

On March 27, 1839 anti-Jewish riots broke out. The Muslim population entered the Jewish Quarter and burned the synagogue. Thirty-five people were killed, and scores more were injured. The rioters and their leaders insisted that the Jews convert to Islam.

The new converts were known as Jadid al-Islam, New Muslims. These new converts were ordered to close the synagogues and schools, to abandon Jewish practices, to change their Jewish names to Muslim ones, and to participate regularly in Muslim ritual and worship.

Many of those who had been forced to convert continued practicing Judaism secretly. Others left Herat, in Afghanistan, or other nearby cities in Persia. Still more emigrated to more distant locations, including India, South Africa, London, New York, or Jerusalem.

Tensions between the Jadid al-Islam and their Muslim neighbors were high, particularly after World War II (1939-1945). The Jadid al-Islam who remained in Mashhad were the victims of riots that broke out when their neighbors suspected them of continuing to practice Judaism. Even during the Pahlavi Regime (1925-1979), when they were no longer officially required to remain Muslims, the local expectation was that they would continue to remain loyal to Islam. Nonetheless, this group of forced converts built a synagogue in Mashhad.

In 1948 there were 2,500 Jews living in Mashhad. By 1973, after waves of immigration abroad, there were only 30 Jews remaining in the city. Synagogues established by emigres from Mashhad were founded in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Milan, London, and New York.

Notable figures from Mashhad include the scholar, poet, and philosopher Siman Tov Melamed.

Place Type:
City
ID Number:
180749
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:
NAMDAR

These Jewish family names derive from personal characteristics or nicknames. Namdar is a Farsi word meaning "the respected, the honorable". This surname is documented with a prominent Jewish family from Mashad, Iran.

MASHHADI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birthplace, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This name is derived from Mashhad, a city and the capital of the Razavi Khorasan Province in northeast Iran. First Jewish presence in Mashhad is documented in 1740.

Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. But, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family.

Mashhadi is documented as a Jewish family name with Simi Mashhadi (1902 -1980), a former resident of Netanya, Israel.

Eliyahu Levian and his fiance' in their
engagement photo, Mashhad, Iran 1920s.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of the former residnets of Mashhad in Israel)
The cast of a play of "Joseph and Suleika",
a play by Hadi Namdun, Mashhad, Iran 1939
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of the former residents of Mashhad in Israel)

The Azizelhoff brothers with their Muslim employer, Mashhad, Iran, 1920's
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, courtesy of the former residnets of Mashhad in Israel)

Celebrating Passover week with guests,
Mashhad, Iran 1927.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of the former residnets of Mashhad in Israel)
Man selling things in front of his home,
Mashhad, Iran 1940
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of the former residents of Mashhad in Israel)
Group of Mashhad women,
the woman in the Center is Abda,
the mother of Mula Ya'akov Aglev, Mashhad, Iran
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
Courtesy of the Association of Mashhad Jews)
Rabbi Morad Aghilar (1850-1936), Mashad, Iran
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Former Residents of Mashhad in Israel)
Cooks and their helpers who came to prepare
wedding feast, Mashhad, Iran 1930s.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of the former residnets of Mashhad in Israel)
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The Jewish Community of Mashhad

Mashhad

Farsi: مشهد‎‎ ; Turkish: Meshed

A city in Iran

Mashhad is the second most populous city in Iran, and the capital of the Razavi Khorasan Province. The city is located near Iran’s borders with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. The eighth imam of the Shi’ites, Ali-Reza, is buried in Mashhad.

After Nadir Shah Afshar’s war with India, he brought a number of spoils back to Iran and stored them near Mashhad. As a Sunni Muslim, Nadir Shah did not trust the Shi’ites of Mashhad to guard his treasures. As a result, in 1740 he ordered that 40 Jewish families be relocated to the city of Kazvin to Mashhad and the areas surrounding. Though Jews were prohibited from living in the holy city itself, they established a community outside of the wall. Under his protection the small community began to flourish, and attracted increasing numbers of Jews from other communities in Persia. With the assassination of Nadir Shah in 1747, however, the Jews of Mashhad were exposed to violence and persecution, and their situation became more precarious.

On March 27, 1839 anti-Jewish riots broke out. The Muslim population entered the Jewish Quarter and burned the synagogue. Thirty-five people were killed, and scores more were injured. The rioters and their leaders insisted that the Jews convert to Islam.

The new converts were known as Jadid al-Islam, New Muslims. These new converts were ordered to close the synagogues and schools, to abandon Jewish practices, to change their Jewish names to Muslim ones, and to participate regularly in Muslim ritual and worship.

Many of those who had been forced to convert continued practicing Judaism secretly. Others left Herat, in Afghanistan, or other nearby cities in Persia. Still more emigrated to more distant locations, including India, South Africa, London, New York, or Jerusalem.

Tensions between the Jadid al-Islam and their Muslim neighbors were high, particularly after World War II (1939-1945). The Jadid al-Islam who remained in Mashhad were the victims of riots that broke out when their neighbors suspected them of continuing to practice Judaism. Even during the Pahlavi Regime (1925-1979), when they were no longer officially required to remain Muslims, the local expectation was that they would continue to remain loyal to Islam. Nonetheless, this group of forced converts built a synagogue in Mashhad.

In 1948 there were 2,500 Jews living in Mashhad. By 1973, after waves of immigration abroad, there were only 30 Jews remaining in the city. Synagogues established by emigres from Mashhad were founded in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Milan, London, and New York.

Notable figures from Mashhad include the scholar, poet, and philosopher Siman Tov Melamed.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
NAMDAR
NAMDAR

These Jewish family names derive from personal characteristics or nicknames. Namdar is a Farsi word meaning "the respected, the honorable". This surname is documented with a prominent Jewish family from Mashad, Iran.
MASHHADI

MASHHADI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birthplace, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This name is derived from Mashhad, a city and the capital of the Razavi Khorasan Province in northeast Iran. First Jewish presence in Mashhad is documented in 1740.

Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. But, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family.

Mashhadi is documented as a Jewish family name with Simi Mashhadi (1902 -1980), a former resident of Netanya, Israel.

Eliyahu Levian and his fiance' in their engagement photo, Mashhad, Iran 1920s
Eliyahu Levian and his fiance' in their
engagement photo, Mashhad, Iran 1920s.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of the former residnets of Mashhad in Israel)
The cast of a play of "Joseph and Suleika", Mashhad, Iran 1939
The cast of a play of "Joseph and Suleika",
a play by Hadi Namdun, Mashhad, Iran 1939
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of the former residents of Mashhad in Israel)
The Azizelhoff brothers with their Muslim employer, Mashhad, Iran, 1920's

The Azizelhoff brothers with their Muslim employer, Mashhad, Iran, 1920's
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, courtesy of the former residnets of Mashhad in Israel)

Celebrating Passover week with guests, Mashhad, Iran 1927
Celebrating Passover week with guests,
Mashhad, Iran 1927.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of the former residnets of Mashhad in Israel)
Man selling things in front of his home, Mashhad, Iran 1940
Man selling things in front of his home,
Mashhad, Iran 1940
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of the former residents of Mashhad in Israel)
Group of Mashhad Women, Woman in the Center is Abda, the Mother of Mula Ya'akov Aglev, Mashhad, Iran
Group of Mashhad women,
the woman in the Center is Abda,
the mother of Mula Ya'akov Aglev, Mashhad, Iran
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
Courtesy of the Association of Mashhad Jews)
Rabbi Morad Aghilar (1850-1936), Mashhad, Iran, 1880
Rabbi Morad Aghilar (1850-1936), Mashad, Iran
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Former Residents of Mashhad in Israel)
Cooks and their helpers who came to prepare wedding feast, Mashhad, Iran 1930s
Cooks and their helpers who came to prepare
wedding feast, Mashhad, Iran 1930s.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of the former residnets of Mashhad in Israel)