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Iranian Jewish Life in Los Angeles: Past and Present

Saba Soomekh, Author
Jasmine Shamolian, page 1 of 4
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Jasmine Shamolian: Beginnings

Early life and Family Background
Growing up in the quiet neighborhood of Tarzana, Jasmine Shamolian had what most would consider a typical Iranian-American upbringing. Coming from an immigrant household, Jasmine understood at an early age the importance of family, community, and sacrifice. Her parents, who were born and raised in Iran, moved to Arizona a year before the Revolution started to attend the University of Arizona. When her father finished his degree in Engineering he had plans to move back to Iran to start a family, but the Revolution was already in full force and he opted to stay in the United States with his young wife. Eventually, the couple made their way to Los Angeles, and became one of the earliest Iranian families to settle in the area. As the revolution progressed, the remainder of the family moved to L.A. to join the couple.
Jasmine’s parents set clear standards and career expectations for all five of their children. She followed a traditional trajectory, graduating from Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills, and then completing her Bachelors of Art in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Upon graduation, she was inspired to enter the field of social work and become involved with marginalized communities of Los Angeles. While her parents were originally taken aback by the career choice—they hoped that she would at least attend law school—they became supportive of her decision and encouraged her to continue to pursue her interests. In 2015 she finished her Master’s in Social Work at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Jasmine Shamolian realized she did not want to become a doctor or lawyer, or pursue other traditional career paths that most Persian Jewish students take. Instead, she decided she wanted to major in Sociology and obtain a Masters’ degree in Social Work. Jasmine wanted to break down barriers and be different. She believed it should be acceptable for people to determine their own paths, especially if they are Persian Jewish women.
Her Persian Jewish identity actually motivated her to obtain her Masters’ in Social Work. When Jasmine was young, she realized that the Persian Jewish community in Los Angeles was very fortunate because it was a strong and tight-knit community. As a result, Jasmine wanted to work with and help communities that were more vulnerable than her own. Therefore, she decided to intern with a sex trafficking organization called “Saving Innocence.” Saving Innocence helps the most vulnerable and oppressed members of our community, those who are often treated as less than human because of common assumptions about prostitution, and provides them with an escape from modern-day slavery. Interning for Saving Innocence also motivated her to continue helping people reach their maximum potential.
Her work in social welfare also shaped her transition into public policy. Although she wanted to work in politics, she still wanted to help people in vulnerable communities. Therefore, she decided to work with City Councilmember Paul Koretz as a field representative. Jasmine now works with a multitude of different communities in Los Angeles, including her own Persian Jewish community. Her genuine compassion and desire to help others drive her everyday life and work. Jasmine is also motivated by her goals. She eventually wants to work for city hall in Legislation, where her job would be to solve problems within the community and make policy changes.
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