Turkey’s Jews meet at historic Ankara synagogue after 40 years
After nearly four decades, Jews in Turkey came together at the Ankara Synagogue to “revive their memories.”
Isaak Haleva, the chief rabbi of Turkey’s Jews, as well as several members of the Jewish community, joined the event in the capital Ankara.
In a speech on the occasion, Haleva said the preservation of synagogues is important for his community in Turkey.
Noting that Jews could now maintain their social and religious life, he said these synagogues are also used for weddings as well as religious festivals.
The Janet and Jak Esim music group played traditional songs at the event.
Although they do not have a significant presence in the city today, the Jewish community of Ankara can be traced back to the biblical period.
The Byzantine-era Jews, known as Romaniots, inhabited Central Anatolia well before a wave of thousands of Sephardic Jews came to the Ottoman Empire following their expulsion from Spain in 1492.
The community peaked at about 5,000 members in the 1930s, however, over time, their number has decreased to a few today due to various reasons, primarily political and economic.
Located in Ulus, the tumbling old quarter of Turkey’s capital, the Ankara Synagogue dates back to the 19th century and was radically refurbished by an Italian architect in 1906.
The historical building is kept closed most of the year as it cannot find the required number of congregation members for worship.