Jonathan M. Stein

Embracing the Exiles

Shmuel Kaplan, an 80-year-old amputee, breathed a sigh of relief in 1997 when the United States granted him political asylum after he fled antisemitism in the former Soviet Union. Two years later, we similarly received an Iranian boy, Rouzbeh Aliaghaei, and his parents. His mother was a high school teacher who had been imprisoned and twice fired for decrying the treatment of women and their lack of freedom. Nine-year-old Rouzbeh understood little about his family’s flight — he is afflicted with a rare genetic disorder resulting in profound mental retardation.