Esther Amini’s mother—or Bibi (“grandma” in Farsi), as the family calls her—grew up in Mashhad, a holy Islamic city in Iran. To escape persecution, Bibi and other Jews kept their religious observance well-hidden. She immigrated in 1948 to the United States, where Esther was born. In the years that followed, the holiday of Thanksgiving—celebrating, among other things, the gift of religious freedom—came to hold a privileged place for her and her family, alongside Rosh Hashanah and Passover.
Amini’s account of this family tradition is one of eight narratives in Saffron and Rosewater: Songs and Stories From Persian Women, a theatrical production of the Jewish Women’s Theater making its East Coast premiere this Saturday, Nov. 23, at the 92Y. In the show, and on today’s podcast, the story is performed by Roxana Rastegar. First, Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry speaks with Ronda Spinak, artistic director of the Jewish Women’s Theater, about the origins of the production.