“I like to call Great Neck the Jerusalem of the Persians,” said Ellie Cohanim, who was born in Iran but came to America as a young child during the Revolution.
“You’re talking about a group that’s been here only for 30 years and yet we’ve accomplished so much,” said Cohanim, director of Institutional Advancement at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, who is highly involved in Great Neck’s Persian community.
They escaped en masse to Los Angeles, Washington, D. and the tristate area, as well as to Italy, explained Daniel Tsadik, assistant professor of Sephardic and Iranian studies at Yeshiva University.
“We’re trying to push forward and get people involved.” But the push for change has come at a cost for the young Persians, for it has put them on a seemingly inevitable collision course with their parents.
“As young Persians, my siblings and I feel connected and sometimes distant from both our American and Persian cultures,” said Shannon Hedvat, the Penn law student.
Formed two years ago here, shortly after a similar group launched in Los Angeles, the group is emerging as a change agent in the Persian community.
“I think that times have changed and we have to be open to what’s going on and realize that politics do have an effect on everything we do,” Shamsian continues.
“Persians are go-getters, they want to succeed, they don’t lay back, they’re high achievers,” said Shahram Yaghoubzadeh, president of Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York.