“I grew up in Kashan, which is a very strict Muslim city," says Rashel. "For the most part, the Jews kept to themselves due to severe persecution.” When Rashel was still a young girl, her family decided to move to Tehran, which was home to a large Jewish population. “As a Jew, daily life was much easier [there], especially for us girls; we had a Jewish high school, which I attended,” she says.
After high school, Rashel attended university, the first person in her family to do so. She enrolled in veterinary school because she loved both animals and science. Her parents worried about her choice of profession, however. “They thought that by becoming a doctor my prospect for marriage would be slim, as some traditional Iranian and Middle Eastern men do not want to marry a highly educated woman,” says Rashel. “Luckily this has changed a lot in recent years.”
After graduating from the veterinary program at the University of Tehran, Rashel studied in New Zealand and then immigrated to the United States. Rashel began her job as a veterinarian at the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Boston in 1986. Of her job at the ARL, Rashel says, “The most rewarding part of being a veterinarian is keeping the animals healthy for the clients, especially for the elderly clients, as many of their pets are their true lifeline and keep them going.”