Cappadocia, Central Anatolia

posted 17 Sep 2019, 12:31 by Charles Greene   [ updated 17 Sep 2019, 13:02 ]
Cappadocia, Central Anatolia

Jews have dwelled in Cappadocia well before the birth of Christianity. Their customs, habits, and lifestyle were well known to their brethren in Babylon and the Holy Land.

Today, the region attracts many a traveler with its fanciful rock formations, elaborate underground cities, and ancient dwellings and churches hewn into the soft rock.

I am on my way home, and very much looking forward to see you this Shabbat.

Meanwhile, here is something I owe you from 4 years ago; a picture of the beautiful boat-shaped Bimah in the Ahrida synagogue of Istanbul (memory of the boats that brought Sephardi Jews from the Iberian peninsula; though some liken it nowadays to Noah's Ark).

Ahrida synagogue is carefully protected from alien eye, and photographs are very seldom allowed here. To understand the full extent of the feeling of necessity for security though, you should visit Neve Shalom synagogue in Beyoğlu district of Istabul. This Sephardic schule, also hosting a permanent museum of the Turkish Jewry, has suffered two deadly terrorist attacks; a shooting in 1986 and a car bomb in 2003. I know no other museum in the world where every visitor's passport has to be submitted a week ahead, the screening protocol rivals that of the most zealous of the airports, and passing the first foot-thick armour-plated door you find yourself in the vault between that one and its twin, sandwiched in a way that never allows for both to be open simultaneously.

Now, with radical Islam feeling more welcome in Turkey than ever due to the present regime, one can never be too careful. In case anyone would tend to forget, the synagogue administration left the bullet holes in the front row, open for all to see.

Things should be put in proportion. There are very few places in the world where Jews dwelled for centuries and have been accepted as readily as they were in Turkey. That does not negate the occasional blood libels in the 19th c, the pro-Nazi Thrace pogroms in 1934, not the recent boycotts of Jewish businesses, particularly textile. Turkish Aliyah is growing, at the estimated rate of about one family per week (which may not sound as a lot but actually is considerable with the entire Jewish population here being south of 13,000 by now).

It means there are more Turkish speaking Jews in Israel than in Turkey today.
Come to think... once over 25% of Istanbul population was Jewish!

Shabbat Shalom, and see you soon.