The Izmir Jewish Synagogue
Izmir is Turkey's third largest city. We visited its active
synagogue. The Jewish community in Turkey is estimated at
about 25,000 people, most of whom live in Istanbul. The
Ottoman Empire was a major refuge for Jews expelled from
Spain in 1492. Turkey, neutral in World War II, was one
country where Jews were safe from the Nazis. Many still
immigrated to Israel, while others chose to stay.
The Rabbi is helping preserve a 300 year old Torah,
the Five Books of Moses from the Old Testament. I
filmed him carefully darkening the Hebrew letters.
This is the Ark at the front of the synagogue,
where the Torahs are kept. We were told that
Jews here can speak Hebrew and Ladino (the
ancient Spanish/Hebrew language), plus Turkish.
Dangling from one of the light fixtures was the classic,
ever-present, Turkish charm to combat the "evil eye". The
synagogue took this interesting sign of assimilation with the
rest of Turkey. (I doubt whether mosques would allow the
charm, but don't know.)
|If you have a high speed internet connection, watch the
Intrepid Berkeley Explorer's free video of Turkey by clicking
on: What the Sultan Saw