15600 Mulholland Drive
Bel Air, 90077
Saba Soomekh, Ph.D., offers a fascinating look at the lives, culture, and religious and ritual observance of three generations of Iranian Jewish women in the United States.
Most of Iran’s Jewish community immigrated to the United States and settled in Los Angeles in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the government-sponsored discrimination that followed. Soomekh will present a portrait of what life was and is like for Iranian Jewish women. Each generation had a different historical experience and they also varied in their approach to Jewish life especially with respect to the highly traditional role of women. Featuring the voices of all generations, she will look at religiosity and ritual observance, the relationship between men and women, and women’s self-concept as Iranian Jewish women. Mother-daughter relationships, double standards for sons and daughters, marriage customs, the appeal of American forms of Jewish practices, and social customs and pressures.
Dr. Saba Soomekh is the Assistant Director of Interreligious and Intercommunity Affairs at AJC and a lecturer at UCLA. She teaches Religious Studies, Middle Eastern History and Women’s Studies courses. She received her BA in Religious Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
She teaches and writes extensively on World Religions, Women and Religion, and the geo-politics of the Middle East. Professor Soomekh is the editor of the book Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews in America (Purdue University Press, 2016) and the author of the book From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women between Religion and Culture (SUNY Press, 2012). Her book was awarded the Gold Medal in the 2013 Independent Publisher Book Award in the Religion category. Besides giving numerous scholarly and public presentations on the Middle East, world religions and women in the developing world, she is also a member of the city of Los Angeles’ Human Resource Commission where she is involved in numerous interfaith and intercultural projects and she is a consultant for numerous schools in Los Angeles focusing on creating honest dialogue about cultural issues.