As a young woman in Tehran during the 1970s, Susan Manavi never visited a cemetery, even after her grandparents were laid to rest a couple of years before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Although they were buried in a Jewish cemetery near the city, Manavi’s parents adhered to an Iranian cultural taboo that death and youth should be kept apart, so as not to tempt fate.
The 52-year-old Los Angeles woman first laid eyes on her grandparents’ headstones two months ago on the Web site Beheshtieh.com. The site has photographs of thousands of graves from Beheshtieh Cemetery.
“Looking at those graves took me back to our homeland and all the memories, sweet and bitter,” Manavi said. “The sweetness of everybody living side by side, rather harmoniously, and the bitterness of leaving and not knowing if you will ever be back.”
The site was developed by L.A. resident Shahram Avraham Farzan. He has cataloged the final resting place for generations of Tehran’s Jewish people.
Indexed alphabetically, the site provides an opportunity for e-mourning at a time when many Jews throughout the world feel antagonized by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The hardline conservative has repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel, and most recently sponsored a conference denying the existence of the Holocaust.