The JTNews generally maintains a high journalistic standard, so the occasional slip-up must be pointed out. Specifically, I am referring to “A living Judaism” by Benjamin Gown, in the issue of Dec. 15.
Farzin Shadpour, whatever his Jewish qualities, doesn’t know much about his heritage. The “Hebrews” taken as prisoners in the northern territories by the Assyrian army in around 700 A.D. was the kingdom of Israel, captured in 732 BCE (before the Common Era, not A.D. (Anno Domini), 1,400 years later. That group is known as the Ten Lost Tribes and Iranian Jews don’t claim to belong to them.
As for Farzin’s preference for Kazar (the kingdom of the Khazars), the time is right, but not much else. They were a people of Turkic origin who settled in what is today mostly the Ukraine and lasted for about 200 years before being wiped out by the Princes of Kiev. Most of what we know about them is from their correspondence with Hasdai Ibn Shaprut, physician to the Khalif of Cordoba in Spain. Hemmed in between Christian Byzantium and Muslim Baghdad, they chose to adopt Judaism to keep their independence. They disappeared as people after their conquest.
Claims have been made that they moved north, forming the nucleus of Hungarian Jewry, but never of the Persian one. There were plenty of Jews living there, as the Purim story about Mordecai tells us, who were taken there after the destruction of the First Temple.
Briefly, Farzin seems to come from a family not much into Judaism so his ignorance is understandable. But how about Benjamin Gown? He is also not much into Jewish history if he can repeat the story without corrections. Finally, did anyone proofread the story? While I am not on a rant, does anyone check on the correct spelling of Hebrew words in transliteration? I’ve seen some unbelievable spellings on occasion. There must be someone on your staff who is familiar with Hebrew — like speak it?