Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews

October 21, 2012–March 10, 2013

Since ancient times, Iran has been a mosaic of ethnicities, religions, cultures, and languages. Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews tells the rich and complex history of one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities, which dates back nearly 2,700 years since the first Jews exiled from Jerusalem to Babylonia settled in the Persian sphere. From the 16th century, Iran was ruled according to strict Shiite Islamic doctrine, and the lives of Jews were marked by periods of persecution and legal prohibition as well as by outstanding creative and intellectual achievements.

Archaeological artifacts, impressive illuminated manuscripts, beautiful Judaica and amulets, ceremonial garments, musical instruments, paintings, photographs, video, documentary ephemera, and more are presented in the Fowler’s Lucas Gallery, showcasing the complex and fascinating story of Iranian Jews and the beauty of Judeo-Persian traditions. Continuing in the Goldenberg Galleria, the exhibition shifts to the twentieth century and ends with Hasan Sarbakhshian’s photographs of Jews remaining in Iran and installations by artists Shelley Gazin and Jessica Shokrian about the dynamic community of Iranian Jews in Los Angeles.

Click here for a list of related exhibitions and events happening across Los Angeles in conjunction with this exhibition.


Above: Torah finials, central or western Iran, early 20th century, cut and engraved silver, 26.9 x 11 cm, Gross Family Collection, Tel Aviv

Light and Shadows installation 01
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This exhibition was created and organized by Beit Hatfutsot—The Museum of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Lead sponsor: Y & S Nazarian Family Foundation

Nazarian Family Foundation


Beit Hatfutsot Museum

Exhibition partner: The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

Additional sponsors: Farhang Foundation, Milken Community High School, and Sinai Temple

Farhang Foundation


Milken Community High School


Sinai Temple