My first thought was that publishing this might further endanger this man’s life, but not publishing it gives in to the whims of tyrants.
One of Iran’s leading dissident Ayatollahs, Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi, is serving a 10-year jail sentence, during which he has been grievously mistreated. His crime was calling for the strict separation of politics from religion in Iran. Now, he has further angered his captors though his followers publishing Rosh Hashanah greetings to world Jewry. The message is both touching and profound. I originally read Thamar Gindin’s translation of the message from Persian to Hebrew. Muhammad Sahimi and Tamar corrected my earlier translation from Hebrew to English so that it was truer to the original Persian. Thanks to them for their help:
Blessings for Rosh Hashanah
We send our blessings to Jews throughout the world, especially the Jews of Iran on the beginning of the new Jewish year. We beseech the Great Lord that in the new year all our wishes for peace and tranquility for both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, for friendship for Jews and all the people of the world, and for the collapse of religious tyranny and freeing of the oppressed prisoners in Iran be realized.
How beautiful it is that this day should be called the Day of Judgment and Creation, demonstrating that God, the Omnipotent, created the world with both justice and equality as the pillars of existence, and fixed freedom and peace as the foundation of existence.
Good Lord has offered His graciousness and purity through blessings and abundance like apple and honey and has made the world sweet and delectable for His servants.
The Jews believe that the Creator, and He alone, inscribes on this blessed day the fate of all humankind. Therefore, on this day all His servants and creatures call His name so that goodness and joy shall replace evil and brutality.
Moreover, we greet the Jewish community in advance of Yom Kippur and Sukkot. In the eyes of Jews, Yom Kippur is a day of penitence and a day of bonding between God and his creatures. In their prayers, they mention their sins and ask for forgiveness.
The holiday of Sukkot commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from exile in Egypt under the leadership of Moses the Prophet, on their way to the land of their fathers, until which time they lived in booths (sukkot) for forty years. This holiday marks the liberation from slavery, and includes the return of freedom, and the return [of the exile] to the home of the father. The message to all humanity in our day is that it is right to achieve freedom and security and that we must gird ourselves patiently and be ready to offer ourselves as sacrifices and pay the price.
We ask from God with the blast of the shofar of human rights that he will open a door to the fate of his servants and lead all humanity, seekers of wholeness, on the path to joy.
From the supporters of the prisoner, advocate of freedom, and pursuer of peace,
Sayyed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi
In the incessant ranting of both sides against the other, Iranian and Israeli, it is refreshing to read that tolerance is not dead. If only there were views of rabbis inside Israel as thoughtful and courageous as these. Israel must realize that when they rattle sabers against Iran that they are undermining the purity of the cause of dissidents like Boroujerdi. All they do is undermine him and all other seekers of freedom and democracy inside Iran.
There are Israel advocacy groups like MEMRI who are delighted by figures like Boroujerdi, because they mistakenly believe that his views will turn Iran into a more docile or pro-Israel entity. What they don’t realize is that this particular Ayatollah is in favor of an Iran in which religion is not involved in politics at all. He embraces a state whose governance is entirely secular in nature. Some of you may already be on my wavelength, and be thinking that Israel is a state that fails such a test. In fact, the settler-Haredi ideology/theology which prevails in many circles in latter-day Israel is closer to the current mullah regime than to Boroujerdi’s views.