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Iranian Jewish Life in Los Angeles: Past and Present

Saba Soomekh, Author

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Swipe Out Hunger: Swipes and Persians

In our interview, Sumekh explained the significance of Swipe Out Hunger for the greater Persian Jewish community in Los Angeles. She emphasized that since Persian Jews founded Swipes, the organization received a great amount of its support from Persian Jewish and Jewish student groups on campus that wanted to see this brilliant idea thrive. Groups and organizations such as Hillel, Persian Community at Hillel (PCH), and others, strongly supported Swipes’ early development into an official UCLA student group, and encouraged participants in their own groups to join Swipes as well. Members of PCH would frequently advertise the Swipes collection drive and encourage students to attend sandwich-making events that needed local support, illustrating the family-like support system present within the Persian Jewish community.

Additionally, at the time of the group’s birth, both Pezeshki and Sumekh urged their friends, many of whom were Persian and Jewish, to join the organization and participate in the group events. With more members and signatories on his student group application, Pezeshki would have a higher chance of being approved. In 2010, Bryan Pezeshki’s brainchild, Swipe for the Homeless, was registered as an official UCLA student group. Subsequently, many of the first-generation members of Swipes were Persian Jews who shared the team’s goal of feeding food-insecure Bruins and people living within the LA area.

Sumekh also asserts that Swipe Out Hunger was founded on fundamental Persian and Jewish values, many of which center around community and food. So much of Persian culture involves preparing meals and spending time with friends and family while enjoying colorful traditional dishes. Jewish culture also stresses the importance of serving one’s community in order to show gratitude for one's food, shelter, health and happiness. The uniting role food plays in both Persian and Jewish culture underscores the significance of providing satisfying meals to the food insecure community, an ideal that is shared by all Swipes members.
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