Honorary leader of Turkish Jewish Community passes away aged 86
Bensiyon Pinto, the former and honorary chair of the Turkish Jewish Community, has passed away, the Turkish Chief Rabbinate Foundation has said. He was 86.
“We have lost our honorary president, our teacher, a symbol of devotion and an exemplary person, Bensiyon Pinto, who has served our Turkey and our society for many years with self-sacrifice, love, faith and wholeheartedly,” it said in a statement.
Pinto died of COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, according to Milliyet daily.
Senior officials, politicians, representatives of non-governmental organizations and opinion leaders issued messages of condolences following his death.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offered his condolences to the Pinto family over a phone call. He also sent a message to the Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva, and the leaders of the Turkish Jewish Community, Erol Kohen and İshak İbrahimzadeh.
“Mr. Bensiyon Pinto, as a member of our nation that has lived in peace and brotherhood for centuries, has made invaluable contributions to the unity, solidarity and social wealth of our country in all the duties he has undertaken,” Erdoğan said in his message.
“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Bensiyon Pinto, the honorary president of the Turkish Jewish Community. I offer my condolences and patience to his relatives, loved ones, and the Jewish Community, to whom he served devotedly,” Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said.
Born in 1936 in Istanbul’s Kuledibi neighborhood, Pinto completed his secondary and high school education at the Saint Benoit French High School in the same quarter.
He began his efforts for the Turkish Jewish Community in 1956 after finishing his military service in the Aegean province of Denizli. He was the chair of the Jewish Community for over 10 years in total at different times from 1989 to 2003.