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Turkey's Jewish community dwindling due to migration, death

ANKARA - Hürriyet | 4/18/2011 12:00:00 AM | ONUR KONURALP

Migration to Israel and a death rate twice that of new births are causing a decrease in the size of the Jewish community in Turkey.

Migration to Israel and a death rate twice that of new births are causing a decrease in the size of the Jewish community in Turkey, according to its representatives.

Economic considerations are the main driver behind migration and are also a factor in the decision by many students studying abroad not to return to Turkey after completing their education, representatives of the 20,000-strong Jewish community have said.

Mortality is also a major factory in the community’s dwindling population. A total of 129 Jews in Turkey died between September and April while 60 were born during the same period.

According to the “Ones from Turkey,” a group founded by Jewish migrants from Turkey to Israel, 101 people moved permanently from Turkey to Israel in 2010, part of a slow but continuing shift that has seen eight more people relocate in the first two months of 2011.

The group works to help the increasing number of immigrants adapt to their new lives in Israel. Young immigrants can play on the “Children of Turkey” (Yeladey Yotsei Turkia) football team, which is coached by İzak Adato, formerly of the Turkish football squad Fenerbahçe’s youth team, according to Şalom, the weekly publication of the Jewish community in Turkey. Adato also coaches a team for 14-year-olds called Maccabi Tel Aviv.

The “Children of Turkey” come to the pitch with a Turkish flag during their games. They played their first match recently against Bet Arye and won eight to six.

The “Ones from Turkey” also help new immigrants by providing them with household goods, cleaning products and food in what they call a “first needs package.” The group offers assistance dealing with the Israeli bureaucracy to get identity papers and social security numbers, and it provides language courses for those who need them.

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