Turkey’s Jewish community marks Hanukkah, lights candles for hope
“I hope and wish that Hanukkah will enlighten our souls and cause the feelings of love, respect and brotherhood among people to develop,” İsak Haleva, the chief rabbi of Turkey’s Jews, said in his message.
For the first time in contemporary history, Turkey’s Jews openly celebrated the holiday in 40 different synagogues with rituals, prayers, traditional blessings and procedures for lighting the Hanukkah candles.
In the northwestern province of Çanakkale’s Gelibolu district, Jews celebrated Hanukkah by lighting candles in a synagogue after 20 years.
Sami Kumru, the leader of the Jewish Community in Çanakkale, the local Jewish community as well as city officials, representatives of NGOs and the provincial heads of political parties attended the celebrations.
“I believe Hanukkah candles were lit in 20-25 synagogues last year. This year it will be lit in more than 40 places. We wanted to light one of these in Gelibolu,” Kumru said during his speech before the ritual.
Hanukkah, Hebrew for “to dedicate,” is an eight-day-long Jewish holiday commemorating the military victory of the ancient Israelites during which they succeeded in rededicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and restoring the menorah.
Celebrated by lighting the menorah each night by adding a candle to the number from the previous night, Hanukkah is probably the most well-known Jewish holiday due to its proximity to Christmas.