OUR FRIENDS IN IRAN
Being a non-religious North London Jew, my attendances at synagogue are usually confined to holidays, weddings and barmitzvahs.
So it was the other Friday evening whilst walking down a street that I came across the entrance to a synagogue. Having some time to spare, I decided to enter.
Now this synagogue was not off the beaten track nor hidden away behind an alley, but on a main street surrounded by shops, cafés and restaurants. There were none of the ubiquitous guards normally seen on most London synagogue doors and the building was as full as I have ever witnessed a synagogue to be on one of the holidays.
The people were genuinely friendly and invited me in for the service. There was no tension in the air and people freely moved between the synagogue and the outside street without a care.
To stumble across a synagogue in Esfahan, Iran, was a surprise, and to stumble across such a well-attended one on a Friday night was a delight. My visit to Iran was nothing more than a revelation and a lesson on human kindness by the Iranian people — not those in power like Ahmadinejad, but rather the people in the street, who are more than willing to discuss politics and the prospect of peace in the region, not just for the Arabs and the Persians but also for Israel.
I left Iran with a sense of hope that at least the people there were not the West-hating masses who are usually portrayed in our media. I also came back to the UK with a sense of embarrassment having read Melanie Phillips’s article Now is the time to attack Iran ( JC, April 25).
I just hope my new friends in Esfahan, Tehran, Shiraz and the other places I visited never come across that article. Paul Stevens Wolseley Road, London N8