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Part of Jewish history
Mashhad's ruler[clarification needed] had ordered his men to enter Jewish homes and mobs attacked the Jewish Community, burning down the synagogue, looting homes, abducting girls, and killing between 30 and 40 people. With knives held to their throats, the Jewish patriarchs were forced to vocally proclaim their "allegiance" to Islam as it was agreed upon by the leaders of the community that in order to save the remaining 2,400 Jews, everyone must convert. Most converted and stayed in Mashhad, taking on Muslim names, while some left for other Iranian Jewish communities and to Afghanistan. That day became known as the Allahdad ("God’s Justice").
The Jews who remained in Mashhad then began living a double life as crypto-Jews. On the outside, they acted as Muslims: their clothes, names, and lifestyles resembled those of their Iranian neighbors. At home, however, they secretly taught their children to read Hebrew, lit candles, and observed Shabbat.
Nearly a century passed before Mashad's Jews started practicing their faith openly with the coming of the more liberal Pahlavi dynasty (1925–1979). After World War II, most of them settled in Teheran, Israel, or New York, with 4,000 moving to the United States, where many ran successful jewelry and carpet businesses. The commercial district in Great Neck, New York, has been reshaped to serve the needs of Mashhadis and other Iranian Jews. Many businesses there cater to Iranian customs and taste.
Worldwide there are 20,000 Mashhadis, of which about 10,000 live in Israel. Of the Mashhadis in the United States, many of them live in Great Neck, New York.
- Mehrdad Amanat, Jewish Identities in Iran: Resistance and Conversion to Islam and the Baha'i Faith, (I.B. Tauris, 2011), ISBN 978-1-84511-891-4, pp. 47ff. Excerpts available at Google Books.
- Hilda Nissimi, The Crypto-Jewish Mashhadis: the shaping of religious and communal identity in their journey from Iran to New York (Sussex Academic Press, 2007), ISBN 978-1-84519-160-3 Excerpts available at Google Books.
- Albert Kaganovich, The Mashhadi Jews (Djedids) in Central Asia (Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 2007), ISBN 978-3-87997-141-6