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April 12, 1968 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1968-04-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Flight from the Depressing Mahale of Teheran

By ABRAHAM PENN

(Copyright 1968, JTA Inc.)

The Mahale, or Jewish Quarter
of Teheran, used to be one contin-
uous pesthole. Then a road was
cut through its heart and now it
is divided in two. Like all the main
avenues of Teheran, this one, too,
is a swirling chaos of every kind of
transport from mandrawn carts'
to huge, big city buses.
The sidewalks on both sides re-;
sound to the cries of street hawk•1
ers and peddlers. Road and market
are separated by narrow culverts
which carry the runoff from the
snow capped Tabriz peaks to the
north, mud brown rivulets floating
refuse southward.
Such is the approach to the
labyrinth of twisting streets and
alleyways which is home to some
1,200 Iranian Jewish families.
When ORT and JDC first came
to Iran 15 years ago, there were
perhaps 13,000 to 15,000 Jews in
the mahale. Today, the number
is closer to 8,000 and the major-
ity of these are newcomers.
No one who can possibly get out
chooses to stay voluntarily. Some
have gone to Israel. Quite a few
have managed to move to other
parts of the city, which, if not
exactly the acme of comfort, are
at least a few notches above the
unrelieved filth and claustrophobic
overcrowding of the mahale. Their
places have been taken by Jews
from the Mahales OR provincial
towns.
To pass through the entrance is
to leave behind in one step all that
connects with the present age. Slop
grits underfoot. Hunks of fly-
covered meat exude the smell of
rot.
The floor slants downward, and
the homes. when one reaches them. I
are indeed below street level. Fam- ,
ilies are packed into dark cubi-
cles, walled with grimy plaster
and built. oriental style, around a
central court which serves as liv-
ing room. playground for the chil-
dren and public meeting place.
It is difficult to imagine that
conditions could be worse, and
yet changes for the better have
been introduced. Some three
years ago, water was piped into

the area. Many families have
been too poor to afford the con-
nection to the main, but others
have managed and have clean
running water. There is even
electricity in many homes.
The greatest improvements have
been in health and education. 15
years ago, the infant mortality
rate was 50 to 60 per cent. Today,
every mahale child is born in the
immaculate, modern hospital op-
erated jointly by the community
and the JDC. Result: survival is
assured to 997 of every thousand,
as good as anywhere in the West.
There are day care centers for
children from age three, and sev-
eral community primary schools.
There is little indication, how-
ever, that life in the mahale can
be made habitable by and reason-
able standards. Teheran is evolv-
ing with the emergence of industry
and introduction of technology.
Among those who stay on and
study are those who qualify for
the ORT school. Once admitted
to ORT, they are on the way. All
ORT graduates find good em-
ployment in the modern sector.
They never return to the ghetto.
ORT is regarded as one of the
leading technical schools in the
country. Its students are in great
demand by industry and govern-
ment.
But its capacity is limited to 750
of whom a great many are drawn
from distant places. To qualify,
the applicant must pass minimal
examinations, which often excludes
those in the mahale who are at the
bottom of the ladder. To admit
them, regardless of examinations,
would not do, because they lack
the requisites for higher study.
Now, a plan has been formulated
to reach these children of the
lowest depths. The community
council of the mahale itself has
joined with ORT to establish within
the ORT vocational center a pre-
apprentice school for those who
are otherwise unqualified, the illit-
erate and semi-literate.
Land for the buildings has been
granted by the Teheran Jewish
community. Candidates will be
chosen by the mahale council
from among its own.

from

DETROIT CHAPTER

E IC N
TECHL ION
SOCIETY

We Thank All Our Friends,
Members, Supporters and
Well Wishers

ROBERT BRODY, President

24525 Southfield Rd., Room 204
Southfield, Mich.
358-3070

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Bonds Spur Book Publishing

Dr. Belkin Marks
25th Anniversary
as Yeshiva U. Head

Celebrating his 25th year as
president of Yeshiva University,
Dr. Samuel Belkin has the distinc-
tion of having built a nationally
recognized institution of higher
learning that is now not only the
oldest but the largest American
university under Jewish auspices.
Born in Swislicz, Poland, Dec.
12, 1911, Dr. Belkin had a tragic
life as a child and as a young

The translation and publication of important foreign books on
law, science, education and many other subjects have become a
major activity in Israel with the aid of Israel Bond dollars. The
Israel Program for Scientific Translation utilizes the wide variety
of language skills which immigrants have brought into the country.
A large proportion of the books published by the Program are
exported, constituting an important example of the way in which
the special skills of Israelis are helping build the country's foreign
trade. Above, a technician studies a tape which is used to print
photographically.

WHITE STAR DAIRY

Manufacturers of Kosher Dairy Products

extend greetings to our customers

,

PASSOVER
BEST WISHES

I

The program itself is a bold
piece of social engineering. After
six months, the students will be
placed on jobs with the dual aim
of learning by doing and earning
a wage. They will remain at the
school for two years in all, the last
18 months of which will be a work-
study combination.
Participants in the project es-
timate that this approach could
be the lever that will finally propel
those youngsters in the mahale
who have until now been consid-
ered beyond the reach of other
efforts. The community is banking
on it as the most constructive hope
yet devised for a lasting solution
for those at the bottom.

20—Friday, April 12, 1968

for Passover

593 Kenilworth

TO 8-8655

DR. SAMUEL BELKIN

adult. As a child of 6 he watched
his father, a noted scholar, being
dragged away by police on a
trumped-up anti-Semitic charge,
never to return. All, of Dr. Belkin's
11 brothers and sisters perished
in World War II.
In modern terminology, he was
an "early bloomer," attaining or-
dination as a rabbi at Radin when
he was only 17 years old. Soon
afterward, in 1928, he came to
America, an immigrant who spoke
Polish, Yiddish and ,Hebrew, but
no English. With distant relatives
scraping together the money for
tuition, he was able to continue
studying at Harvard and Brown
universities. In 1935 he won a
PhD from Brown.
That year, too, he joined the
staff of the school that was to
become under his direction Ye-
shiva University. His first assign-
ment was as an instructor in
Greek. He became a full professor
in 1940, and in 1943, when he was
not yet 32 years old, he was elected
president.
Students today enter an institu
tion vastly different from the one
Dr. Belkin took over in 1943. Then
it enrolled only 850 young scholars
and had a 94-member faculty. To
day it has over 7,500 students and
a faculty of some 2,200, including
many educators prominent in the
physical, social and life sciences
as well as in the field of Jewish
religion, culture and history.
Dr. Belkin has been accorded
many honors and tributes. In 1959
he received an honorary degree
from Brown University. In 1963
Mayor Robert F. Wagner awarded
him the Bronze Medal of the City
of New York for his service to
higher education. In 1964 Dropsie
College of Philadelphia conferred
upon him the honorary degree of
doctor of humane letters. In 1965
the board of overseers of Albert
Einstein College of Medicine of
Yeshiva University presented him
with a gold medal honoring him on
its 10th anniversary as founder
and leader in its growth and de-
velopment.



The Exodus from Egypt, portrayed here pictorially according to tradi-
tion, is a sacred reminder of the historic era of the liberation of the
Jews from Egyptian bondage. It is on unending admonition of the
need to strive for freedom of oll peoples and all faiths, and for the
retention of the Jewish spiritual values.
Passover admonishes us to hold
fast to the values of the Passover

lessons gleaned from our history.

May This Passover
Prove a Blessing
For the Entire World

BILTMORE DEVELOPMENT COMPANY

Builders and Developers of Somerset Park Apartments
and Fashion Center
2900 W. Maple, Troy, Mich.

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