Mashhadis and Immigration: Redemptive Narratives and Practical Challenges

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This paper analyzes redemptive narratives constructed by Mashhadi Jewish immigrants through oral histories, memoirs, and life stories collected across generations. It examines how conceptions of religion, community, and family shaped their meaning-making around migration challenges. The first case study examines Malka Aharonoff’s lamentation reconstructed from religious redemption across generations into a Zionist narrative. The second analyzes Esther Amini’s published memoir, which reconciles her story with that of her immigrant parents through narrative, demonstrating its role across generations with gender as the focal point. The later cases of Aharon Namdar and Mehran Bassal present individual oral histories, capturing major migration waves from Iran, playing out the differing import and expression given to Zionism and to religion by different immigrants. The study explores how selective appropriation and cultural translation occurred between generations. It sheds light on ideological and cultural frameworks underlying immigrant perspective. By comparing narratives emphasizing collective redemption versus individual experiences, it offers insights into identity formation and the role of memory in immigrant communities dispersing over time. By demonstrating narrative’s therapeutic role in processing dislocation across generations, the study sheds light on cultural transmission and identity formation within dispersed immigrant communities. It offers a fresh perspective on their migration experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number730
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the author.


  • community
  • family
  • gender roles
  • identity
  • immigration
  • Mashhadi
  • redemption
  • religion
  • United States
  • Zionism


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