HEKMAT, ŠAMSI MORĀDPUR

HEKMAT (Ḥekmat), ŠAMSI MORĀDPUR, educator and philanthropist (b. Tehran, 1917; d. Los Angeles 2 July, 1997; Figure 1). She graduated from American School and Sage College in Tehran. Founder, owner and principal of Hekmat International School (1950-79) in Tehran, Hekmat was one of the founders and the president of the Jewish Ladies’ Organization of Iran (Sāzmān-e bānovān-e Yahud-e Irān; 1947-79), which established five free daycare centers in low income Jewish quarters across the country providing education, clothing, food, and shelter to underprivileged children (Cohanim, p. 490; Sarshar, pp. 249, 424). The organization’s other functions included literacy and vocational training for adults, and emergency aid to victims of natural disasters.

Playing a significant part in obtaining the approval of Israel’s religious leadership, Hekmat helped to ameliorate the hardship of Iranian Jewish women with respect to inheritance laws by changing the takkanot (ordinances).

In her capacity as the honorary treasurer of the High Council of Women’s Organization of Iran (Šurā-ye ʿali-e sāzmān-e zanān-e Irān; 1958-74), she represented Iran in various international conferences on the status of women and was instrumental in organizing ten daycare centers and orphanages throughout the country. As Vice-President of the International Council of Jewish Women (1966-72) she promoted social and educational exchange within the thirty member countries. Immigrating to the United States in 1979, Hekmat founded the Iranian Jewish Women’s Organization of Southern California to provide financial assistance to underprivileged families and students. In 1981, she started the “Persian Friends Chapter of the City of Hope” to raise funds for the City of Hope Medical Center. In 1982, she established the “Haifa Group” of the Beverly Hills Chapter of Hadassah, receiving the title of Honorary Life President of Hadassah in 1989 (Cohanim, p. 491).

Bibliography:

Ruhollah Cohanim, The Golden Treasures Book: 1001 Memories, Los Angeles, 1993.

Houman Sarshar, ed., Esther’s Children: A Portrait of Iranian Jews, Los Angeles, 2002.

(Houman Sarshar)

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