Sign in or register
for additional privileges

Iranian Jewish Life in Los Angeles: Past and Present

Saba Soomekh, Author

You appear to be using an older verion of Internet Explorer. For the best experience please upgrade your IE version or switch to a another web browser.

Swipe Out Hunger: Response to Jewish Journal

The article in The Jewish Journal featuring Sumekh was titled “Not Your Typical Persian Girl.” Though she was honored that The Jewish Journal chose to feature her on their cover as their “Mensch” in such a prestigious publication in her community, the title of the article misrepresented Rachel’s beliefs as an Iranian Jewish woman.

Prior to The Jewish Journal publication, Sumekh had not pondered her Iranian identity. Being Iranian simply mandated what type of food she ate and language she spoke. However, it was not something she was truly introspective about until she journeyed to Oaxaca, Mexico on a human rights trip and heard a powerful story from an indigenous woman who spoke the native language, Mijeh. This woman’s emotional story about her abusive marriage resulted in Sumekh shedding tears. The story reminded Sumekh of her grandmother from the city of Shiraz in Iran. In contrast to the indigenous woman, there was no overt violence involved for her grandmother; however, she too was married from the age of ten, had her first child at thirteen years old, had to drop out of school, and had no control over her life.

The emotional experience connected Rachel to the Iranian part of her identity. She then began to write about her identity as an Iranian Jewish woman but feared publicizing her work until The Jewish Journal piece came out. In response to the article’s inaccurate title, Sumekh wrote a follow up piece titled “The Norm, Not the Exception.” Being a twenty-four-year-old woman in the Iranian Jewish community in Los Angeles can entail a particular reality. For instance, many of Sumekh’s friends experienced the reality of getting engaged at her age. On the contrary, there is Rachel’s reality, where she can do more for the community and hopes to do more. Sumekh says, “If I’m a Persian Girl, why can’t I be typical and why should someone else hold the title of what that means in our community?” Sumekh wanted her piece to convey the message that what she is doing should not be considered abnormal. She wants any young girl who reads the article on her work with Swipe Out Hunger as an Iranian Jewish woman to feel inspired to achieve the same accomplishments. Sumekh hopes to redefine what “typical” means within the Iranian Jewish community. As Sumekh says in her response, “I want it to be typical for a Persian girl to feel encouraged to choose her own path.”
Comment on this page

Discussion of "Swipe Out Hunger: Response to Jewish Journal"

Add your voice to this discussion.

Checking your signed in status ...

Previous page on path Swipe Out Hunger: Rachel Sumekh, CEO, page 9 of 9 Path end, return home