Photo Essay: Iran’s Jews

In his March 3 speech before the US Congress, where he made the case against a US nuclear deal with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled the life of Esther, also known as Haddasah, and the Persian plot to “destroy the Jewish people 2,500 years ago.”

According to the biblical narrative, Esther discovered the plot and ordered the hanging of the Persian viceroy Haman and his sons. That part of Esther’s biblical story became the basis of Purim, one of the most important Jewish celebrations. This year, this festival of salvation is celebrated today, March 4.

Like Haman, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is also bent on destroying the Jewish people and their homeland of Israel, Netanyahu said.

What Netanyahu did not mention was that Esther, was married to Ahasuerus, also referred to as Xerxes, a Persian ruler of the pre-Islamic Achaemenid Empire. Following her marriage, Esther, an orphan and adopted daughter of her uncle Mordechai, became the Jewish Queen of Persia, according to the Book of Esther.

Both Esther and her adoptive father Mordechai are buried in the Iranian city of Hamedan, at a an ancient brick memorial that also house a synagogue.

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