Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Sima Goel

Iranian born Jewish Woman Shares Her Powerful Story of Escaping Iran at CJA Top Donor Event

by Rhonda Spivak, November 22,2021


Iranian-born Sima Goel  shared her inspirational story of escape, courage, and freedom at a  Combined Jewish Appeal's Top Donor, Lion of Judah & BGS Special Event on Nov 18, 2021. 

Goel spoke from the heart, as  she relayed how as an Iranian teenager at the age of 17 , she crossed "the most dangerous desert in the world" to escape the restrictions of life in Iran of the early 1980s.


Goel, who grew up in the Iranian city of Shiraz , and another teenage girl traveled, hid and made their way “past smugglers, rapists and murderers” out of Iran into Pakistan and then on to the West.


Goel had  lived under the dictatorship of The Shah of Iran and then under that of the Ayatollah Khomeini, which became progressively more oppressive. She witnessed how life in Iran became a living nightmare.


She wrote  her memoir,  “ Fleeing the Hijab: A Jewish Woman’s Escape from Iran” because as she said “I love books.” She had an overwhelming desire to shares her story. Goel had a  Baha’i classmate who became a victim of racial taunts from a bully. Goel and the Baha'i classmate they were in the one per cent non-Muslim minority at school , and Goel challenged the bully on the teachings of Islam. Goel was then suspended from school.


Over the next three years, Goel changed schools, and cities, and it was her mother who eventually encouraged her to flee Iran.


The only way to escape Iran  was by crossing the desert on foot to Pakistan at night. If  Goel had came into contact on route with Afghanis who were coming into Iran to support the government of the Ayatollah, it would have been very dangerous-she could have been killed or raped. “But by grace of God, I survived,” she said



Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution when the Ayatollah came to power, the young Iranian Jew was forced to wear a hijab,  a loose dress, and pants that hid the shape of her legs. Regarding the hijab, the only choice she was given was whether to wear a black, brown or navy hijab. Dr Goel desperately sought a better life, and was willing to take the risks associated with fleeing Iran



Her mother knew smugglers who could help the young girl flee, but  both she and her mother were aware of the possibility of death in the desert.


It was a difficult decision to leave her family, but her life in Iran was a living hell. When she fled Iran she had no possessions-not even a photograph of her family. She made it to Pakistan where she lived under terrible conditions before making her way to Montreal  at the age of 18.


Goel published her book in 2015, sharing her story about the power of faith, hope, and resilience.


She says she a positive person with a positive outlook on life, who tries to make the most out of every day. She says is “very grateful” for all the help she received from the Jewish Federation and Jewish community when she arrived in Montreal as a penniless political refugee. When I arrived in Canada I knew I wanted to get an education.” 


She values living in a  democratic society which gives her “ freedom of choice” to live her life the way that she wants to-with freedom of speech and thought. 


Each person who registered for Goel’s moving presentation received a copy of her memoir.





<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Orthodox Union
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Coughlin Insurance Brokers
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Tel Aviv University Canada
  • Booke + Partners
  • Gislason Targownik
  • James Teitsma
  • Janice Morley-Lecomte
  • Obby Khan
  • Artista Homes
  • Fetching Style
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Chisick Family
  • Stringers Rentals
  • Winnipeg Beach Home Building Centre
  • KC Enterprises
  • John Wishnowski
  • JLS Construction
  • Ingrid Bennett
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • The Paper Fifrildi
  • Joanne Gullachsen Art
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Levene Tadman Golub
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Holiday Inn Polo Park
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Bridges for Peace
  • CVA Systems
  • Chochy's
  • Lakeside Roofing
  • Ambassador Mechanical
  • Roseman Corp
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • kristinas-greek
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.