As Seen in the Santa Fe New Mexican: Play reveals truth in today’s Middle East

By Elisheva Herrera Apr 8, 2023

The truth matters. Escape from Tehran is a play based on a true story about a young Jewish couple in love who must flee to Israel when the more moderate Shah of Iran is deposed, and Shariah is imposed.

This story reminds me of Jewish people I have known from Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Morocco who had to escape their countries after their ancestors were there for centuries, sometimes with only the shirts on their backs. We think of displacement as a modern-day issue with Syrians and Ukrainians fleeing war-torn countries. It is a disease in our world.

Many people don’t know that 850,000-plus Jews have had to flee Middle Eastern countries since Israel became a state in 1948. Persecution and antisemitism have created many refugees over the years.

This is the reason the existence of Israel is necessary for the survival of Jews. Say what you will about Israel’s politics, but let me remind you that no government is perfect. Do you support everything the U.S. government does? I do not, and yet I have no doubt the U.S. has a right to exist. Seventy-five years later, Israel’s right to exist is still being questioned. Some of this is due to misinformation.

People believe Jews only came to live in Israel during the Zionist immigration of the early 20th century. Yet there have always been Jews living in Israel. Or perhaps people believe European Jews colonized Israel. This ignores the influx of the many Jews from Middle Eastern countries and Ethiopia. How can we colonize ourselves?

Antisemitism is at an all-time high in the U.S. (adl.org/resources/report/audit-antisemitic-incidents-2022). Jews make up such a tiny proportion of the population and yet bear the brunt of violent crimes based on religion. Jews are like canaries in the mineshaft. The rise of antisemitism means the rise of intolerance in general.

I believe Escape from Tehran sheds light on the human experience of displacement, as well as the Jewish experience of it. Playwright Stephanie Liss will speak about the subjects of her writing and her personal interviews of controversial leaders such as Yasser Arafat and David Duke.

Ignorance is not bliss for Jews. Knowledge is powerful. Sharing stories like Escape from Tehran leads to understanding and tolerance, and that’s good for everyone.

Escape from Tehran

What: Escape from Tehran, a special premiere screening of a new Jewish play, presented by ALEPH, soon to be seen on Jewish Life Television, by award-winning playwright Stephanie Liss. Lecture by playwright to follow.

When: 3 p.m. Sunday, April 16

Tickets: $20 suggested donation. Tickets available ticketstripe.com/events/1033382

Where: Congregation Beit Tikva, 2230 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe

More info: Visit Beittikvasantafe.org

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