Leav­ing Iran: Between Migra­tion and Exile

Farideh Goldin

  • Review
By – July 14, 2016

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.

Jane Waller­stein worked in pub­lic rela­tions for many years. She is the author of Voic­es from the Pater­son Silk Mills and co-author of a nation­al crim­i­nal jus­tice study of parole for Rut­gers University.

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