‘From Tabriz to Albany’ – LI’s New State Senator

Anna Kaplan (Photo via annafornysenate.com)

Democrat Anna Kaplan, who was born Anna Monahemi in Tabriz, Iran, becomes the highest-ranking Persian-Jewish elected official in the state with her win over Republican incumbent Elaine Phillips for New York State’s 7th Senate District, reports Miriam Levy-Haim in Tablet. The district covers parts of Long Island’s Nassau County.

Kaplan was 13 when she left Iran during the Islamic Revolution, part of an airlift of Iranian children, writes Levy-Haim.

She initially stayed in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and then fostered with a family in Chicago where she learned English and attended high school until her parents and family were able to legally join her in the United States more than a year later. She went on to graduate from Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women and Benjamin Cardozo School of Law.

While Kaplan observed on her Facebook page that Persian Jews stayed out of politics in Iran, once here, grateful for opportunities given to her, she felt the need to give back.

In some ways, Kaplan is unique in her community for her active involvement in politics, which generally is not common for the Jewish-Persian community, though that is slowly changing. Jewish-Persian “engagement politically really revolves around Israel,” observes Jackie Harounian, a family practice attorney in Great Neck, Long Island, who is a first-generation Iranian-American Jew, and a long-time friend and supporter of Kaplan’s. “It’s fundraising for Israel. And there have been tremendous amounts of awareness and money raised even among young people.”

Read about Kaplan’s views on gun control and reproductive health, as well as her “unexpected path” to pubic service, in Tablet.

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