Tehran ( AsiaNews) - Youssef Hamadani Cohen, the spiritual leader of the small Jewish community in Iran died three days ago after many years of illness. The news was only reported by state media yesterday.
Cohen became Chief
Rabbi in 1994, but stepped down from the direct management of the affairs of
the community in 2006, having been struck by Alzheimers. He was 100 years old when
he died and was buried two days ago. His successor is Mashallah Golestani Nejad
The Jewish community has been present in Iran for centuries. According to a 2011 census, currently there are between 8750 and 20 thousand members, spread throughout Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz. Before the Islamic revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini there were 80 to 100 thousand.
community is a recognized minority in Iran, along with Christians and
Zoroastrians. The Jews also have a representative in parliament (currently
Siamak Moreh Sedgh ) and are well integrated into the Shiite majority society,
although they cannot aim to fill high profile positions in public office .
The community runs schools, a library, and a hospital in Tehran, partly funded by public money.
Rouhani's election last June has eased some recent tensions (see photo) .
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continuously launched accusations against
Israel - threatening to wipe it off the map - and has always claimed that the
Holocaust was a "myth" fabricated by the West and the "Jewish
A few months after his election last September, Rouhani sent his best wishes to the Jewish community for the Jewish New Year, as did the Foreign Minister Javad Zarif . Both have also condemned the Holocaust.