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But Jews, unlike Muslims, can keep small flasks of home-brewed wine or arrack to drink within the privacy of their homes - in theory, for religious purposes.

There is a Jewish library with 20,000 titles, its reading room decorated with a photograph of the Ayatollah Khomeini.In written testimony to a congressional subcommittee in February 1996, an Iranian Jew complained of being imprisoned for two years on trumped-up charges of spying for Israel.He also said his arrest was preceded by harassment at work and pressure to convert to Islam.The wave of anti-Israeli sentiment that swept Iran during the revolution, as well as large-scale confiscations of private wealth, sent thousands of the more affluent Jews fleeing to the United States or Israel.Those remaining lived in fear of pogroms, or massacres.They stopped going to restaurants, cafes and cinemas - many such establishments were closed down - and the synagogue perforce became the focal point of their social lives.

Iranian Jews say they socialize far less with Muslims now than before the revolution.

As a whole, they occupy their own separate space within the rigid confines of the Islamic republic, a protected yet precarious niche.

Jewish women, like Muslim women, are required by law to keep their heads covered, although most eschew the chador for a simple scarf.

This is Friday night, Shabbat - Iranian style, and the synagogue in an affluent neighborhood of North Tehran is filled to capacity with more than 400 worshipers.

While Jewish communities in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria have all but vanished, Iran is home to 25,000 - some here say 35,000 - Jews.

Iran's Jewish community is confronted by contradictions.