Jews in early 20th Century Iran: the path to the community’s politicization

Miriam Nissimov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In March 1915, Shalom, the first-ever Jewish newspaper in Iran, called upon its Jewish readership to turn their backs on “moral corruption” and “superstitions” and take the path of enlightenment and progress. Shalom marks a critical juncture in the modern history of Iranian Jews–a harbinger of the community’s awakening and internal politicization, a process that culminated in the mid-1920s when institutions and individuals fought fiercely over the community's vision and leadership. The path to that tumultuous decade began in the second half of the nineteenth century, when growing contact with European-Jewish philanthropic and communal organizations transformed the way that Jews in Iran perceived their situation as a religious minority, as well as the solutions they sought for relieving the hardships they endured. It continued with the gradual formation of a new generation of educated Jews, graduates of the modern schools opened under the auspices of missionary bodies and the Alliance Israélite Universelle. These youngsters sought a way to strengthen the community's religious and cultural cohesion and to reform its institutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-322
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Constitutional Revolution
  • Iran
  • Jews
  • Zionist organization
  • politicization


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