Growing up in the 1970s in Queens, New York, as the first-born daughter of Jewish immigrants from Iran, I was unable to articulate how I felt different from the other kids in my public elementary school: I could tell my teacher, Mrs. Rice, loved me, but I had never been called “bubbeleh” before. There were plenty of Jewish kids, but none whose families, like mine, ate rice during Passover. The other kids spent their time at sleepovers and sleepaway camps my parents would not allow me to attend. One afternoon, in 1979, after the Iranian Revolution, as a bunch of us walked from school to Hebrew school at the synagogue up the street, I felt the sting of my differentness, when a boy I had known for years turned to me angrily and hissed, “You, Iranian!”
The upheaval of that revolution scattered tens of thousands of Iranian Jews away from their country, most to the United States or Israel.