2008–09 Phyllis Greenberg Heideman and Richard D. Heideman Fellow Ms. Orly Rahimiyan
Orly Rahimiyan received an M.A. suma cum laude in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies and a B.A. suma cum laude in Arabic language and literature and Iranian studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. During her fellowship at the Museum she was a Ph.D. candidate in Middle Eastern studies at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. She was also a Research Fellow at the Ben Zvi Institute, researching the Jewish communities of the Middle East. For her Phyllis Greenberg Heideman and Richard D. Heideman Fellowship, Ms. Rahimiyan conducted research for her project, “The Images of the Jews in the Eyes of the Iranians during the 20th Century.”
Ms. Rahimiyan is the author of many articles and book chapters, including “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Iranian Political and Cultural Discourse” in editor Esther Webman’s The Protocols of the Elders of Zion: The One-Hundred Year Myth and Its Impact, “‘The Seven Elders of the City:’ The Leadership of the Jewish Community in Tehran at the Qajar Period” in Sefunot; and “Judaism in Iran in the Pahlavi Period” in editor Ihsan Yarshater’s Encyclopaedia Iranica, all of which were forthcoming at the time of her tenure; “Entre chiisme et khomeynisme: le dépérissement du judaïsme iranien” [Enduring Shiism and Khomeinism: The Oppression of Iranian Jews] in editor Shmuel Trigano’s La Fin du judaïsme en terres d'islam (Denoël, 2009); “Jewish Community in Iran” in editor Manocher Dorraj’s Iran Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in Islamic Republic (Greenwood Press, 2008); and “The Organization of the Jewish Community in Iran in the 19th and 20th Centuries” in editor Haim Saadoun’s Jewish Communities in the East in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Iran (Ben Zvi Institute, 2005). Ms. Rahimiyan is the recipient of several awards and fellowships, including a Nathan Rotenstreich Scholarship from Ben Gurion University, a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the Center for Iranian Studies, Columbia University, The Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture grant, The Ministry of Education and Ben-Zvi Institute award and a Vidal Sassoon International Center Scholarship. Ms. Rahimiyan has language skills in Hebrew, Persian, Arabic, German, and French.
During her tenure at the Center, Ms. Rahimiyan studied the evolution of the representation and images of Jews in modern Iran. She conducted a comparative study to show the continuity and changes in how Iran depicted Jews from Reza Shah Pahlavi’s reign in 1925 to the Islamic Republic of today. She focused on Jewish stereotypes, physical attributes, characteristics, motifs, and Iranian media and literature. Ms. Rahimiyan explored the connection between the historical contexts in Iran (global, local, religious, and secular elements) and past and current depictions of Jews produced and circulated in Iran. Her research revealed how old stereotypes of Jews are preserved in Iran and how new ones come about in modern society. She used the Museum’s extensive archival collections to complete her research, including documents on the relationship between Germany and Iran, the history of Iranian Jewry during WWII, and antisemitism in Iranian society. She also conducted research at other institutions such as the Library of Congress and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.