TBE's Sisterhood is sponsoring this fun event on Friday, August 26 at 6:00 pm on the patio outside the Social Hall. All ages are welcome! The menu includes hamburgers, hot dogs, boneless chicken breasts, veggie burgers, all the fixings, salads, corn-on-the-cob, watermelon, cookies and drinks. The cost is $15 per person for adults and children ages 10 & older; $10 per child ages 5-9; no charge for children under age 5. There is a family price of $45. Everyone is welcome to stay for Shabbat Zimrah services which will follow at 7:30 pm.
R.S.V.P. by Monday, August 22. Please send in a check, payable to Sisterhood of TBE, to the temple office. We are also looking for volunteers to "man" or "woman" the grills that night. Call the office at 733-4149 if you'd like to help.
This article, which appears in the July-August 2016 issue of Tekiah, had to be edited for space. Here is the unedited version of the article.
My Time In Iran: September 1978-January 1979
By Cindy Bailey
In the spring of 1977, I got a part-time job in a local restaurant in West Springfield. I was close to high school graduation and had a full scholarship to Westfield State College. While working there, I met Javad. He was a handsome, charming and exotic Iranian student. He went to Southeastern Massachusetts University, which has since merged with UMass Dartmouth. He was studying electrical engineering.
I was a “nice” girl from a large family. I had 3 brothers and 1 sister, and my Mom and Dad. Mom was a homemaker and Dad worked very hard at a factory. We were members of the Episcopal Church in town.
I grew up with some serious health issues, but was doted over by Mom and learned to get exercise and fresh air from Dad. I had asthma and epilepsy and grand mal seizures. I became strong and healthy, and lived a pretty normal life. At some point after about a month of flirting, Javad met my parents. He was polite and old-fashioned, so they approved. After that, we went on our first date, Annie Hall. . . I know, how ‘70s!
The summer went on and so did our romance. It was a very happy time. He had a lot of friends in the area and we would all go out disco dancing, to the beach and the movies together. We enjoyed getting to know each other and all the cultural differences we had.
During that time, we became engaged, and I decided to “put off” college for now. I was young and smitten and couldn’t wait to go to Iran and get married.
He asked if I would meet and befriend a friend’s wife who had just arrived in America from Iran. She had a newborn baby boy, and was lonely and spoke little English. Javad felt I would be kind and patient with her while she adapted. Her name was Munir and we became close friends. I even stayed overnight on my day off for many weeks with her and her husband Ahmad. She taught me Farsi and Iranian ways, and I helped her with English. She was a much faster learner. The best part of all was that Munir and Ahmad both came from Qazvin, Iran, the same city Javad was from. She would be a great help in countless ways to me in Iran. And, she knew my parents, had their address and phone number, and would never hesitate to call them if I was in any trouble. I would have a friend indeed in that area of the world.
The end of the school year came quickly and Javad and my friends soon headed home. I was to follow in a few months; Javad wanted to get a job first, which he did, and my parents and extended family gave me a wedding shower.
Now that it was time for me to go, I was full of excitement and anticipation. I bought presents for his family, bought my ticket on Iran Air and was all set. Javad’s job was with a microwave company and required him to be on the road a lot. So I found out that he wouldn’t be meeting me at the airport in Tehran when I arrived. His relatives, who I didn’t know at all, were going to pick me up, and they did. But, thankfully, Munir was there too, or I may have gone home with anyone!
I had traveled in my life prior to this, but in the U.S. and Canada. Stepping outside the airport in Tehran was something else entirely. There were modern buildings and cars, along with men in front of small shops, sitting and smoking hookahs. There were women in modest, modern clothes and others in chadors (full length black hijabs). The further away from Tehran we got, the more “old world” the sights were—bazaars with people selling all sorts of colorful fabrics and necessities, and men herding goats in the streets! I loved it.
Finally we arrived at the family’s home, and as it was his cousins, not immediate family who picked up me up, I had a whole new crop of people to meet. They were polite and welcoming and probably a little bit in shock. They knew I was coming, but a week with this tall, foreign, non-Iranian girl had to be a bit much. They had prepared a feast for me, but first we were beckoned to the courtyard. This courtyard was completely enclosed to the outside world, had a lovely pomegranate tree and a cement pond with koi. It was lovely.
It was getting dark, but I could see that everyone was smiling. A small goat was being held by two men about 20’ in front of me; they also seemed very happy. Munir wasn’t smiling. “Cindy, I am so sorry, I didn’t know this was going to happen, it’s very old fashioned.” She also held my hand and said, “when I squeeze your hand, look just at me.” I did as I was told and soon figured out that they were going to “sacrifice” this goat in my honor. I never got the whole story—I guess to welcome me from abroad or something.
It was quickly over and I thanked his parents as Munir said I might want to do. Then we all went inside and had a feast in my honor. It was lovely, and the food was delicious. We all sat on the floor around the cloth, and people kept talking to me. All in all, it was very nice.
A week later Javad was home; it was a very loving reunion and I was so in love, but he wasn’t the same. He spoke to me more sternly, and was talking about delaying the wedding a bit. Even his family was surprised as they were already planning it. His own brother told him off—how could he bring this young girl here and do this? But I kept receiving mixed messages from him; he took me out a lot to meet friends and seemingly show me off, yet seemed almost ashamed of me once we were “home.”
I was 19 and smart/stupid as many my age would be. He was 32.
As time went on, the protests against the Shah turned into a full-blown revolution. I could hear protesters at night shouting “marg Ba Shah” (death to the King), and also “Death to America.” Towards the end of my time there, I heard gunshots outside my window followed by screams. These were unarmed protesters. At times in different locations, I saw blood in the gutter on the side of the street. I have heard many times over the years that this was a relatively bloodless revolution—I guess that is a matter of opinion.
During my time there, I had been ill twice, once with what I believe was dysentery. His mother took me frequently to their doctor, who gave me a series of shots. Munir came most days and spoon-fed me tea. I couldn’t keep anything in my stomach, but she never stopped trying. I finally improved. I had lost a lot of weight and was weak, but kept doing exercises in their courtyard every day. I wanted to get stronger. I already felt like a big American target, and didn’t need to be half-dead, too.
My other illness was more life-threatening and was actually asthma. We stayed overnight at Munir and Ahmad’s home, and I forgot my inhaler at Javad’s house. My small wheeze was quickly turning into a full-blown attack. The biggest problem was that it was already dark outside and we were under a complete curfew. People had been shot for venturing out. To his credit, Javad was on the phone for hours trying to get me help. Munir made a sort of tent over her bed with steam and had me lay there all night. My lips were turning blue and I lost consciousness a few times. I remember being so afraid, and tears were running down my face. I thought about my parents—if I died it might kill them. (I asked them about this the other day, and they said it just might have; it was unbearable to even think about it.) Would my body get home at least? I could no longer talk, this was beyond any of my attacks at home, and of course I had medical care at home. My friends didn’t feel it was safe to bring me to a hospital. Finally, daylight came and Javad had a friend who was a pharmacist who gave him an inhaler, some kind of liquid medicine and pills for me. I was slowly breathing better.
A few days later we went to Tehran to visit with his cousins. Qazvin was getting very dangerous. Javad’s brothers’ dress shop, along with others in the mall where it was located, was blown up. It was a mild January day and I was on the 3rd floor of his cousin’s apartment building. Then, I heard a noise unlike any other-- like 10 stadiums full of people cheering all at once. It was just announced that the Shah left to go to America for medical treatment. Every Iranian knew he would never return. People were dancing in the streets. It was mass joy, but the Ayatollah Khomeini was due any time. I had to leave Iran, soon.
The next night Javad and I were back at his home, and we argued. We were alone in the kitchen, and I told him I had to have a ticket home, soon. He said he didn’t want me to go. At this point, I didn’t care what he wanted; I had to go—I was in danger. I was getting too loud, and he said “quiet down, my parents will hear you!!” I said I didn’t care, get me the tickets, I was in a dangerous situation. I saw red; any little thing my Dad ever taught me about self-defense was in my head at that moment. I decked him. I gave him a surprisingly strong blow to his chin. I knew he could really hurt me; I felt my life was at stake. He sat on the floor where he fell, and said he was sorry and please not to tell my father! Three days later, I had my ticket on Swiss Air to go home.
Finally we were at the airport in Tehran. Javad had neglected to tell me that the Iranian military had taken over the airport! I spent some time in a room with a man in uniform who told me he was a general. He was very upset with me—why had I overstayed my 3-month visa? I lied and said we didn’t have the gas to travel there. He kept yelling and pounding his desk. I cried and begged. I told him how worried my parents were and this seemed to strike a chord. He relented and stamped my visa. As we waited for my flight, I was numb and angry. As they announced my flight, we stood and Javad tried to give me a box of pastries for the flight. I threw them into the trash, hugged him quickly and boarded my flight.
Seventeen hours and many stops later, I was at JFK. Unfortunately, it was the storm of ’78. I know! What luck. I called my parents whom I wasn’t able to call for a week, as no calls were getting out. They were so happy, they wired me the money and I took a bus from Port Authority to Hartford. I don’t remember much after that.
The next morning I woke up on my parents’ sofa with my grandmother kissing me, saying “Oulie, you’re home.”
Our new Siddur Lev Shalem has made its debut to rave reviews! We are offering you the opportunity to dedicate one or more copies of the new siddur in honor of or in memory of anyone, or to commemorate a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, wedding, birth of a child or grandchild, etc.). A bookplate will be placed in the front of each siddur with your name and message. Your help is greatly appreciated to help cover the cost of 400 books.
Hanukkah is coming, and this makes a special gift that will be used daily in our synagogue.
The cost is $36 per book. Please click here for an order form.
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