Iran’s Jewish community is one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. In the old Testament the name of Cyrus the Great is mentioned as the liberator of the Jew from captivity in Babylon. This is further testified by the celebrated Cyrus Cylinder in which he mentions that he freed those held captive by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.
The Bible records that some Jews returned to their homeland from Babylon, where they had been settled by Nebuchadrezzar, to rebuild the temple following an edict from Cyrus (Ezra 1.1-4). This is also confirmed by the Cyrus Cylinder, an inscription on clay written upon conquering Babylon by Cyrus the Great.
In 1970s, the Cyrus Cylinder, in which he sets forth the principles religious tolerance and human freedoms came to be known as the first Charter of Human Rights, predating the Magna Carta by more than one millennium.
Iran’s jewish community is officially recognized as a religious minority group by the government, and like the Zoroastrians they are allocated one seat in the Iranian Parliament(Majlis). Today only Tehran has 11 functioning synagogues, many of them with Hebrew schools. It has two kosher restaurants, and old –age home and a cemetery. Iranian Jews have their own newspaper (called “Ofogh-e-Bina”) with Jewish scholars performing Judaic research at Tehran’s Central Library of Jewish Association”. The”Dr. Sapir Jewish Hospital” is a charity hospital in Tehran.
There are also a number of notable sacred Jewish sites in Iran. Notably the mausoleum of Prophet Daniel in Southwestern City of Shush(Susa), the mausoleum of Esther and Mordecai in the City of Hamedan, and Prophet Hayaghugh in Tuyserkan City, Western Iran.