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Wedding Song: Memoirs of an Iranian Jewish Woman / Edition 1

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Overview

Farideh Goldin was born to her fifteen-year-old mother in 1953 and into a Jewish community living in an increasingly hostile Islamic state—prerevolutionary Iran. This memoir is Goldin’s passionate and painful account of her childhood in a poor Jewish household and her emigration to the United States in 1975.

As she recalls trips to the market and the mikvah, and as she evokes ritual celebrations like weddings, Goldin chronicles her childhood, her extended family, and the lives of the women in her community in Shiraz, a southern Iranian city. Her memoir details her parents’ "courtship" (her father selected her mother from a group of adolescent girls), her mother’s lonely life as a child-bride, and Goldin’s childhood home which was presided over by her paternal grandmother.

Goldin’s memoir conveys not just the personal trauma of growing up in a family fraught with discord but also the tragic human costs of religious dogmatism. In Goldin’s experience, Jewish fundamentalism was intensified by an Islamic context. Although the Muslims were antagonistic to Jews, their views on women’s roles and their treatment of women influenced the attitude and practices of some Iranian Jews.
In this brave and dispassionate portrayal of a little-known corner of Jewish life, Farideh Goldin confronts profound sadness yet captures the joys of a child’s wonder as she savors the scenes and textures and scents of Jewish Iran. Readers share her youthful adventures and dangers, coming to understand how such experiences shape her choice.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This powerful book is strongest in its depictions of Goldin's large extended family, some of whom struggled against tradition while others fought to maintain it."—Hadassah

"The strength of Wedding Song, however, is not only in the autobiographical plot, but in the skillful way Goldin weaves the story and its topics together: blood lines, the older generation, the battle for education, the Jewish ghetto, and the final crunch of marriage are all explored in the context of place and time . . . It is the vividly described ritual and spiritual events that add the most to this memoir . . . Goldin's prose is clear, intense - practically tangible.”—Jerusalem Post

"Big questions about the role of religion in society and the nature of family loom behind the dark moments of Goldin's memoir, and equally satisfying are the windows into Iranian Jewish culture."—Antioch Review

The tale is told with skill, flavor, and drama."—The Virginian-Pilot

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584654445
  • Publisher: Brandeis University Press
  • Publication date: 9/21/2004
  • Series: HBI Series on Jewish Women
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 220
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

FARIDEH GOLDIN studied math and English literature at Pahlavi University in Shiraz, Iran, from 1971 to 1975. She transferred to Old Dominion University in Virginia, earning her B.A. in English Literature in 1976, an M.A. in Humanities and her graduate certificate in Women's Studies in 1995. She earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing in 2002. In addition to her own stories, which have been widely published, Goldin has shared her knowledge of Iranian Jews with audiences around the United States, recreating Iranian Jewish women’s lives and discussing their writings both in Iran and in exile.

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Read an Excerpt

The first time the khastegaree, the marriage proposal, came for me, I was only twelve years old. I was at the movies with my mother to see an American comedy, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Wearing a new brown dress with yellow flowers, I yearned to run and make its flowing skirt twirl, but I knew girls had to be modest and squashed my desire to skip from happiness. As we waited in the newly opened indoor theatre, an old woman in chador approached my mother and whispered something in her ear, while her eyes focused on me.

My mother threw her chin up, indicating a negative answer in the Iranian fashion. 'No,' she said. . . . 'I was married young myself. I don't want my daughter to have the same fate,' my mother said. She gave her refusal finality by turning her back and walking away. Then she looked directly into my eyes. 'I could have given you to them, you know. That's what happened to me.'

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