August 10, 2023
This newsletter’s focus is on antisemitism.
Please see the editorial by M. Elie Alyeshmerni and the article by Mr. David Suissa of the Jewish Journal.
This week, we are showcasing our Executive Vice President, Elham Yaghoubian. The community is privileged to have the benefit of the wisdom and hard work of this leader whether it is in programming, enhancing our infrastructure (work on our website and the newsletters), or bringing important matters to our attention.
We also bring you the good news about some progress being made on the debilitating HIBM disease and the efforts on behalf of selfless people in the community who are working towards eradicating this disease that appears to be limited to Iranian Jews.
M. Elie Alyeshmerni
Va’etchanan: The Power of Why
وئتخنان: قدرت “چرا؟”
This parsha is all about being honest about the consequences and defining our realities. Sometimes we do not stop to genuinely consider the consequences of our actions. Instead, we act before we think and then become upset by the outcome. We may victimize ourselves, become angry with the results, and be oblivious as to why things happened the way that they did. In parashat Re’eh, Moses designs outlines for the Israelites. He sits with them and analyzes what types of choices lead to what types of results. Namely, he emphasizes the pattern that he has seen when people deviate from their covenant with Hashem. He wants them to understand that their choices directly affect their futures and bonds with each other and with Hashem.
Elham Yaghoubian is a writer, translator, and political and human rights activist, born and raised in Tehran. She presently holds the position of Executive Vice President at the IAJF.
At the age of sixteen, she penned her first novel, securing her status as the first Iranian Jewish woman novelist in Iran. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Tehran Azad University and continued to pursue her literary aspirations.
Elham played a role in the establishment of the Jewish journal “Bina,” later renamed “Ofoghe-Bina,” in Iran. She was one of the head editors and writers, shaping its content until her relocation to the United States.
In 1998, Elham played a role in founding the group “Marz-e Por Gohar,” an underground movement advocating for change in Iran. This movement played a crucial role in catalyzing the July 1999 student uprising. Following this pro-democracy mobilization and the subsequent detention of her compatriots, she left Iran.
Upon her arrival in Los Angeles, her commitment to supporting immigrants and refugees flourished as she took on a counseling role at Jewish Vocational Service (JVS). Concurrently, she joined forces with Iranian colleagues to establish the Marze Por Gohar office, furthering her pro-democracy advocacy. Her impact was so profound that Kenneth Timmerman, a renowned political writer and activist, crafted a character inspired by her in his book “Honor Killing.”
Elham’s publications and activism tackle critical issues such as human rights abuses in Iran, the Iranian leadership’s denial of the Holocaust, and her resolute campaign against anti-Semitic sentiments within Iranian politics. These endeavors led to harsh criticism from radical Iranian media outlets and state-sponsored broadcasts, branding her as a Zionist and anti-revolutionary figure.
In 2007, Elham’s expertise was enlisted by the California National Guard to enhance one of their projects. Over the ensuing two years, she collaborated with their Sacramento base as a Cultural and Community Outreach Advisor, serving as the sole consultant based in Los Angeles. In 2008, Elham pursued her Master’s degree at the International Relations Department of CAL State University. During the same year, she founded a group that eventually evolved into the Iran-Israel Alliance of Nations, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering understanding and collaboration between the two nations.
Elham’s literary and translational contributions encompass four books and a plethora of articles. She fervently advocates for human rights, women’s rights, and minority rights, expressing her views in both English and Farsi.
Her passion led her to serve as a board member for various non-profit organizations, including the West LA Chamber of Commerce, Iranian American Jewish Federation, B’nai B’rith International, Fred Matloob Foundation, 7Dorim, and Friends of Westwood Library. Her efforts have earned her multiple certificates of recognition and appreciation from council members, congresswomen, and state senators. She was honored with the Shamsi Hekmat Achievement Award in 2019 and the B’nai B’rith International President’s Award in 2020.
She adeptly oversees Tower of Babel, a language service company she co-founded. This enterprise offers translations and tutoring services in over 25 languages.
Solve GNE, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization, has successfully raised over $2.5 million and established sponsored research agreements with leading medical researchers. Their concerted efforts aim to develop a cure for Hereditary Inclusion Body Myopathy (HIBM), a muscular disorder that induces progressive muscle weakness typically emerging in early adulthood, often beginning in the legs and eventually leading to complete loss of mobility. Notably prevalent among Iranians of Jewish descent, the disease affects an estimated 10 to 15% of this population due to carrying at least one copy of the mutated gene. The tireless fundraising by Solve GNE has galvanized a collaborative initiative among academic and private sector researchers focused on various gene therapies. On September 10th, an expert group will convene on Zoom to present a comprehensive overview of multiple strategies propelling novel gene therapies for HIBM.