Before the crest of the Iranian Revolution, Farideh Goldin decided to escape her domineering father, Baba, and the restrictions of the Iran’s increasingly fundamentalist culture. With the help of an American professor, Farideh — then a college student majoring in English literature — secured entrance to the United States.
Upon her arrival, Farideh urged her father to liquidate his farmland and move the family to Israel. Once the Shah was forced out, Baba was convinced that it was time to leave. A substantial bribe enabled him to get the family onto the last El Al plane out of the country to Israel.
In America, Farideh met Norman, a young Jewish doctor, whom she married. Shortly afterward, she flew to Israel to visit her family and found them living in a tiny, crowded apartment, impoverished and miserable. Far from being sympathetic, their Israeli neighbors had looked down on them as an unwelcome burden.
In attempt to regain some of his assets, Farideh’s father returned to Iran, where the police arrested him and seized his passport. Years of pleading, bribery, and waiting followed, until a guard hit Baba with such force that he he was left with a concussion and other injuries.
Farideh managed to liberate her father and bring him to America, where she and her husband nursed him back to health before Baba rejoined his wife and family in Israel and formalized his new citizenship.
By then, Farideh had three young daughters, and found herself immersed in Nomarn’s family’s synagogue and community. When her children went to Kindergarten, she returned to school as well, earning a Master’s degree in English literature. With her instructor’s help, she improved her writing skills and published a story about her mother’s marriage at thirteen years old.
The response from Farideh’s family was a cry of horror, complaining that she had made them sound primitive and threatening to sue. “Let them sue,” Norman supported her. “Write another one.”
Thus Farideh Goldin delivers Leaving Iran, a combined memoir of two narratives of the Jewish experience of the Iranian Revolution and its aftermath.