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About Us

Founded in 1992, Sephardic Heritage Alliance, Inc., has since its inception been dedicated to support of Persian Jewish families' and individuals' preservation of our proud three-millennial cultural heritage; obtaining educations,  whilst embracing positive acculturation in the United States. SHAI’s founders anticipated that the post-Iranian-Revolution Persian Jewish community in New York would grow and flourish, necessitating SHAI’s support in its transitions.

26 years later, the SHAI organization effectively serves as a Jewish Community Center without walls. Funded by donor generosity, boasting a thriving and active volunteer Board, SHAI helps the Persian Jewish community and our neighbors in innumerable ways:

SHAI proudly

  • Supports senior citizens' health and wellness as the largest not-for-profit sponsor of the Town of North Hempstead Senior Social Center;
  • Awards in total confidentiality need-based scholarships to enable deserving students to pursue higher education, with over $2 million awarded to date;
  • Engages Persian Jews of all ages in multiple Youth, Young Families, Young Professionals, Star Singles, and Seniors events;
  • Subsidizes a Summer Youth Day Camp and Teen Leadership Program;
  • Partners with local institutions, such as Schools, Synagogues, Libraries, Park District, and the Town of North Hempstead to educate and support the community;
  • Awards Merit Scholarships every two years in memory of the legacy of esteemed members of our community.

With minimal overhead and maximal donor and volunteer dedication, SHAI accomplishes all these and more because we are committed to preserving the best of Persian Jewish culture while continually laying the groundwork for positive acculturation for the next generation of Persian Jewish Americans.

so we may continue to support the community!

SHAI Board


Board Members

President Rebecca Yousefzadeh Sassouni
Vice President Edwin Cohen Azarkian
  Shahram Delafraz *
  Erika Goldstein-Kashi
  Misha Haghani
  Jacqueline Harounian *
Treasurer Raymond Eshaghoff *
Educational Affairs Pargol Khadavi *
Board of Trustees David Adhami
  Claudine Amirian
  Joseph Amirian *
  Saeed Amirian
  Parisa Bokhour
  Kambiz Damaghi
  Shahrokh Sean Eshaghoff
  Tania Eshaghoff-Friedberg
  Keivan Farhadian
  Mar Green
  Hercel Harounian *
  Michael Harounian
  Rebecca Harounian
  Raymond Iryami
  Anna Monahemi Kaplan
  Ashley Kiaei
  Behnam Kohanim
  Joseph Moinian
  Nazee Moinian
  David Ohebshalom
  Fred Ohebshalom *
  David Pour
  Shawn Rafie
  Khosrow Sassouni
  Rafael Sassouni *
  Farangiss Sedaghatpour
  Shahruz Shahery
  Michael Shahkoohi
  Maggie Siouni
  Mirra Maslavi Zara
( * indicates Past President)


Celebrate Israel Parade

2018 Parade Photos

2017 Parade Photos

Contact Us

PO Box 1025
Great Neck, NY 11023
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Telephone: 855-SHAI-777 (855-7424-777)


No warranties

This website is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. SHAI makes no representations or warranties in relation to this website or the information and materials provided on this website.

Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph, SHAI does not warrant that:

  • this website will be constantly available, or available at all; or
  • the information on this website is complete, true, accurate or non-misleading.

Nothing on this website constitutes, or is meant to constitute, advice of any kind. [If you require advice in relation to any [legal, financial or medical] matter you should consult an appropriate professional.]


Limitations of liability

SHAI will not be liable to you (whether under the law of contact, the law of torts or otherwise) in relation to the contents of, or use of, or otherwise in connection with, this website:

  • [to the extent that the website is provided free-of-charge, for any direct loss;]
  • for any indirect, special or consequential loss; or
  • for any business losses, loss of revenue, income, profits or anticipated savings, loss of contracts or business relationships, loss of reputation or goodwill, or loss or corruption of information or data.

These limitations of liability apply even if SHAI has been expressly advised of the potential loss.



Nothing in this website disclaimer will exclude or limit any warranty implied by law that it would be unlawful to exclude or limit; and nothing in this website disclaimer will exclude or limit SHAI’s liability in respect of any:

  • death or personal injury caused by SHAI’s negligence;
  • fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation on the part of SHAI; or
  • matter which it would be illegal or unlawful for SHAI to exclude or limit, or to attempt or purport to exclude or limit, its liability.



By using this website, you agree that the exclusions and limitations of liability set out in this website disclaimer are reasonable.

If you do not think they are reasonable, you must not use this website.


Other parties

[You accept that, as a limited liability entity, SHAI has an interest in limiting the personal liability of its officers and employees. You agree that you will not bring any claim personally against SHAI’s officers or employees in respect of any losses you suffer in connection with the website.]

[Without prejudice to the foregoing paragraph,] you agree that the limitations of warranties and liability set out in this website disclaimer will protect SHAI’s officers, employees, agents, subsidiaries, successors, assigns and sub-contractors as well as SHAI.


Unenforceable provisions

If any provision of this website disclaimer is, or is found to be, unenforceable under applicable law, that will not affect the enforceability of the other provisions of this website disclaimer.




General Donations to SHAI in any amount:

Or, direct your donation to one program in particular:

(please note your selection in the "special instructions" area on the linked page)

  • $500 - Sponsor a Camper
  • $1000 - Sponsor a Senior
  • $1500 - Sponsor a Student

Featured Events

SHAI Programs will be featured in a NoRuz special airing of Ma Va Shoma
on Wednesday March 20th from 4 to 9PM and Friday March 22 from 4 to 9PM


Mission Statement and History

For three millennia, the Jews of Persia endured and overcame obstacles on the path to survival. Known as the "People of the Book," Jews have long recognized the importance of oral and written textual tradition, and the concomitant obligation to educate ourselves and our children, across time and continents, wherever we reside.

Founded with pride in this tradition, Sephardic Heritage Alliance, Inc. "SHAI"  is committed to educating young and old alike. SHAI's mission to fuse our heritage with our future, to pass tradition from generation to generation remains vital. For nearly three decades, SHAI has responded to the community's calls for senior support, educational scholarships, cultural programming, professional networking, educational, health, sports,  forums, and much more.  SHAI remains committed to serving the evolving needs of our community.

In 1992, a group of 13 friends in their mid-30s, found themselves at a crossroad frequently visited by immigrants of a new land.  Having left Iran as young adults the group established their lives in a new homeland, New York, rich with opportunity and democratic freedoms. Yet, amidst their success, they were concerned about maintaining their ancestral legacy.  Would America soon assimilate their young children into her great melting pot?  Would their stories of a past life in a distant country, with snow-capped mountains and rich Farsi maxims, suffice to sustain the next generation?  Seeking to instill a meaningful balance for their young children, these forward thinking friends moved to establish a platform, for the future, by which the Persian identity and heritage would be preserved and passed down from generation to generation.  And so, the Sephardic Heritage Alliance, Inc, SHAI, was born.

Two and a half decades later, SHAI remains committed to its founders¹ core vision.  Education is the cornerstone of SHAI¹s mission.  As such, this commitment to keep its youth cohesive, well rounded and focused has evolved into a strong collaboration with local educational leaders, local government, and other non-profit organizations and institutions.  The SHAI Scholarship Fund awards financially-deserving students with the means to pursue their education and obtain the tools for life.  Remarkably, to date, with the help of the community, by distributing in excess of $2.0 million, SHAI has assisted over 1,200 deserving students in the United States and in Israel in achieving their educational goals.

SHAI takes seriously its commitment to cultivating the next generation of leaders.  SHAI¹s thriving Young SHAI division supports its young adults¹ professional and social networking ambitions. SHAI takes pride in the fact that these events have resulted in closely knit bonds of friendship and the like.

SHAI underwrites programs designed to expose young children to Persian music, language and culture with Persian dance and Persian language instruction and has also worked to secure Farsi language instruction in the Great Neck Public School district.  SHAI also underwrites the cost of a weekly Youth Activities Sports program to provide a fun and safe sports environment for kids.

In its second decade of existence, SHAI mobilized to serve the needs of its senior population.  SHAI is proud to be the largest non-governmental sponsor of the Town of North Hempstead¹s Great Neck Social Center.  SHAI is pleased to support the vitality and independence of the one hundred and fifty matriarchs and patriarchs of the community who attend.  Three times a week, at no cost to them, seniors socialize, dine, and exercise.  They also receive vital health care, educational information, and county social services.

SHAI proudly hosts an annual holiday Coat and Toy drive, a community-wide forum on the environment, a blood drive, educational panels in collaboration with local schools, parenting workshops, and health and wellness seminars.  SHAI is also honored to organize a robust, multi-generational contingent of over 350 people each year in the Celebrate Israel Parade in Manhattan.  Marching up Fifth Avenue, SHAI¹s unique 20 x 30 foot Israeli flag always gets aerial media coverage. 

SHAI's youth services include a winter sports program, youth outings, and the Teen Leadership Program that provides some fifty youths an enriching and educational summer camp, free of charge, in Great Neck, NY.

SHAI has made an innumerable impact on the lives of many.  All those who served on SHAI's Board over the past twenty years have integrated diverse opinions and energy into a sustainable organization that prides itself on transparency and democracy.  The vision of a group of 13 young immigrant parents has resulted in a 25 year journey to preserve, educate and elevate an entire community of children, parents, families, and institutions.



Shabbat Times



(You will be directed to another site.)

SHAI Gala, March 14, 2018


 Invitation to 2018 Gala

 >Invitation to 2018 Gala

>Invitation to 2018 Gala

>Invitation to 2018 Gala


Videos produced by Shawn Rafie, Noor Video



Click here to see SHAI's other valuable programs

SHAI Scholarship, Grants, and Loans

Download Application

We owe our sincere gratitude to the members of our community who have generously supported the SHAI Educational Scholarship Fund from its inception in 1998. The Fund is the cornerstone of our educational agenda for the future. Although it is a need-based program, the SHAI Educational Scholarship Fund is not a charity. The Fund is an investment in the future of our community. In the long term, we are confident that it will yield real dividends, and by that we are referring to the hundreds of educated young people that will be helped by it.

Quality education is costly, especially for large families, and the cost of tuition is rising each year. The high cost of education puts it out of reach for some students, and makes it an unreasonable hardship for others. An educated mind is the key to a bright future and personal reward. An educated mind is one that is enriched with Jewish learning, a college degree, and maybe even a professional degree. It is our hope that SHAI's scholarship program will give a degree of financial assistance to every student that needs it, so that every family that needs it can have a helping hand in educating their children. The Scholarship Fund has grown significantly with each passing year, enabling our organization to help students of Persian Jewish heritage over the past 10 years. Since its inception, we have awarded $2 Million in scholarship funds to over 1000 students. The Fund is administered under clear guidelines, designed to ensure its integrity, and to yield the maximum benefit to the widest range of students.

  • To begin with, and most significantly, it is an endowment fund, maintained in a segregated risk-free account. Every single penny donated to the Scholarship fund goes directly toward the tuition expenses of the student. Not one penny is used for any other purpose. There are no overhead expenses, and no administrative expenses. All of SHAI's events, mailings, and other expenses are paid for out of a separate account.
  • Scholarship checks are paid directly to the educational institution where the student is currently enrolled, and never to the individual student. Moreover, scholarship awards are capped for each student.
  • Each application is thoroughly screened by a dedicated subcommittee of SHAI's Board. Every applicant, and in some cases the parents of the applicant, must fill out and sign a sworn financial affidavit and disclosure form, and provide requested documentation. This is in compliance with government regulations, and so that we can ensure that scholarship funds are given to students with genuine need. The screening process is conducted under conditions of strict confidentiality and discretion, out of respect for the applicants' privacy.
  • One unique feature of the program is that applicants for a college or graduate school scholarship make an honor agreement to repay the money in the future. It is our belief that in the years to come, a good portion of the monies that have been paid out will be paid back, and in this way, the endowment fund will be constantly replenished. We have already received full repayment from some of our scholarship recipients.

It is said that those who have the means to afford the mitzvah of giving, should give, whether the amount is $100 or $260,000. By donating to this worthy cause, you are investing in the future of the Persian Jewish community, and you are doing it in a manner that benefits us all. When our children finish their studies, and by virtue of their education, they will be able to support their future families and our future community. We urge anyone who has questions about the Scholarship Program, to approach any board member at any time. We will be happy to give you more detailed information about the endowment fund, how it is maintained, how the monies are distributed, and the special donations for Israel. (o date, SHAI has awarded nearly $50,000 in scholarships for needy students in Israel. It is our sincere hope that, with your continued support and generosity, the SHAI Scholarship Fund will be a source of financial support for students in need, for generations to come.

Download Application                                                                                                                                                If you are interested in sponsoring/donating, click here

The SHAI Scholarship Committee is extremely discreet and committed to maintaining applicants' confidentiality.
For this reason, online/electronic applications are not accepted. Do NOT e-mail your application. Please mail to the PO Box address listed on the application.

Social Media

Find us on any or all of the following social media pages:


SHAI Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc
Humans of SHAI
SHAI Member
SHAI Stars


Support a Student

Support a Senior

Support a Camper

Teen Leadership Program

SHAI's Teen Leadership Program is a youth summer camp that was initiated during the summer of 2013 with two dozen participants. The program is designed for use by thirteen and fourteen year olds as a fun and educational summer program based in Great Neck NY. The Teen Leadership Program’s main focus is for our teens to come together to learn about their heritage, to give back through community service, and to develop their leadership skills. Activities include leadership classes with Rabbi Levy, Krav Maga self defense classes, paint-balling, rock climbing, sports tournaments, water parks, and trips to Adventure Land and The Long Island Holocaust Museum. They also visit the Great Neck Senior Center to spend time with the elders of our community.

Directed and organized by Rabbi Yamin Levy, this program operates from within Beth Hadassah Synagogue’s summer camp.  For six weeks during the summer months, the camp participants learn the values of community and charitable work while enjoying fun and interesting activities.
Teens who complete the Teen Leadership Program over the summer are then given the opportunity to attend weekly classes with Rabbi Levy during the school year.   The following summer they have the chance to participate in a three week trip to Israel. In 2015, twelve graduates from the 2014 CIT program participated in the Teen Israel Trip.
During the summer of 2015, due to the overwhelming demand, SHAI doubled the size of the camp participants from 25 to 50 youngsters. With the tight bonds and close relationships that are formed through the Teen Leadership Program, the teens of our community are able to develop strong leadership skills while learning and also having fun!



Teen Leadership Program 2017 - Week 3


Teen Leadership Camp 2017 - Week 2


Teen Leadership Program



Video Gallery

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SHAI 26th Anniversary Gala

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SHAI 22nd Anniversary Gala

SHAI 20th Anniversary Gala