Jewish cemetery to be restored in Aegean town

Jewish cemetery to be restored in Aegean town

MUĞLA - Anadolu Agency
Jewish cemetery to be restored in Aegean town

AA photo

A Jewish cemetery in the southwestern Aegean district of Milas will be restored as part of a project that has been dubbed “The Silent Witnesses of Jewishness in Milas.” 

As part of the project, the graves of 170 Jewish people in the Gümüşlük neighborhood will be included on the Milas Cultural Route with the goal of putting the area on the map in terms of faith tourism.

Many Jews lived in the area until recently, Milas Mayor Muhammet Tokat said, adding that the town’s doctor was a Jewish Turk during his childhood. 

Many of the local Jews were engaged in trade and were well-regarded for their business ethics, Tokat said. 

“We know them but we also want the future generations to learn that many Jews once lived in Milas. In this vein, we are working to restore a historical cemetery which was owned by the Jewish community. In the scope of “The Silent Witnesses of Jewishness in Milas” project, the ruined cemetery will be restored, and the Milas Jews will be honored,” the mayor said.

The head of the İzmir Jewish Community Foundation of İzmir, Sami Azar, said cemeteries were sacred in all religions, adding that they were ready to give full support to the project. 

“All people who lived in Anatolia left behind a trace, all creating a common culture. This project has made me so happy, as Jewish people are also a key part of Anatolian culture. Cemeteries are sacred for everybody. We are ready to give full support to the project, which also encompasses cataloguing the gravestones in the cemetery,” he said. 

Professor Engin Berber, an adviser to the Milas Urban Museum, said a separate section had been prepared to promote Jewish culture at the center.

Siren Bora, a PhD history researcher who is conducting research at the site, said the cemetery was 400 years old and possessed 170 visible gravestones. 

“With the project, which is a first in Turkey, more gravestones will be unearthed. We expect that special information about Jewish culture will be discovered by examining what is written on these gravestones, as the Jewish gravestones include various pieces of information about the deceased persons and their families,” said Bora.

In addition to Milas Municipality and the Jewish Community Foundation of İzmir, the Milas District Governor’s Office and the Milas Development Association are also collaborating on the project.