Iranian Jewish Women Discover the Power of Words

By Farideh Dayanim Goldin

Hadassah International Research Institute on Jewish Women, November 1, 1999

Iran, a country famous for its literary heritage, is known both for beautiful poetry and for a rich oral tradition. Yet, until very recently, Iranian Jewish women had no place in this history. Before we discuss, criticize, or praise the literary works of Jewish women of Iranian heritage, we need to understand the women's long silence, the conditions that constrained them in the past, and those that constrain them now. For many centuries, life for Jewish women in Iran meant poverty, early marriages, and illiteracy. Jewish women were classed the lowest, suffering the double jeopardy of sexism and antisemitism. The train of hardship was often lessened through the cherished "dard-e del", talking of the "aching heart". Dard-e del had many functions. It was a healing tool, a source of empowerment, and a Middle Eastern version of a support group. The custom created a reservoir of stories that circulated among women as yet unaware of the power of written words. Generations later, Iranian Jewish women reach back to this collection of oral histories to record their mothers' stories, and to cross over from talking themselves free to writing themselves free.

Topic: Persian Jews, Literature, History, Women, Iran

Name of Publication: Working Paper Series

Page Number(s): 145-160

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Genre: Brief

Coverage: Iran

Language: English

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Goldin, Farideh Dayanim. Iranian Jewish Women Discover the Power of Words. Working Paper Series. Hadassah International Research Institute on Jewish Women. 1 November 1999: 145-160.


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