In the years following the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, Jews were secretly smuggled out of the country. For most of them, Vienna was only a transit stop on the way to the USA or Israel. Their religious meeting place was the synagogue at Grosse Schiffgasse 8 in 1020 Vienna, also known as the “Schiffschul.”
The rabbi there, Schmuel Ernst Pressburger (1918–1993), and his son Michoel Pressburger devoted their energies to the fate of the Iranian Jews, giving them a brief feeling of home and security before they continued their journey to Israel or the USA. The Schiffschul became a focus of brotherly love and charity for this group of persecuted and marginalized people.
Tsedaka, the Hebrew term for charity, is one of the oldest principles of Judaism. Characterized by social commitment and civil courage, it is a sign of the solidarity of Jews throughout the world. Between 1991 and 1993, Christine de Grancy was able to photograph the hidden world of the Iranian Jews and document the work of Rabbi Pressburger and his son.
Photo: Christine de Grancy
Curator: Dan Fischman
Source: Jewish Museum Vienna