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Iranian Jewish Life in Los Angeles: Past and Present

Saba Soomekh, Author

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Rabbi Peer: Many Houses, Only One Home - Chabad Persian Youth

Rabbi Yaakov Peer, director of Chabad Persian Youth (CPY) in Los Angeles, traveled a similar path to that of Rabbi Loloyan. He was born in Shiraz and attended a Jewish elementary school in Iran. Even more so, he was also raised by a traditional family that were not as ultra-orthodox as he is now. However, in 1973, when he was only 9 years old, Rabbi Peer and his family left Iran and moved to Israel. After serving his time in the Israeli army, in his early 20’s Rabbi Peer felt he still needed to fulfill a higher purpose in life. In hopes of finding this purpose, Rabbi Peer left Israel in order to meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe in New York and learn Torah at 770.

Soon enough, it seemed the move to New York was the right choice as Rabbi Peer met his wife through the Chabad organization in New York, referred to previously as 770. However, just two weeks into their marriage he was told that the Persian Jewish immigrants in Vienna, who had just fled from the Khomeini regime in Iran, were in need of a rabbi. Surprisingly, when Rabbi Yaakov Peer heard the offer he and his newly found wife packed their bags and moved to Vienna. Together with his wife, Rabbi Peer created a temporary temple for Iranian immigrants as they waited for their U.S visas.

As the Persian community in Los Angeles began to grow, in 1992 Rabbi Hertzel and Shoshana Peer moved to Los Angeles to devote themselves to the spiritual needs of the Persian community. Similar to their time in Vienna, their focus was to create a center to be a pillar of Jewish life in LA and to share the message of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, which is to bring the joy of Judaism to every Jew regardless of where he/she holds in life. With the close of 2013, it has now almost been 22 years since Rabbi and Mrs. Peer started CPY and together with local support they have created a vibrant and successful organization that is making a major impact in Los Angeles.
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