Turkish Jews reach out

By Sasha Brenner, July 9, 2009
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The Jewish Turkish community is seeking to reach out to the Muslim population with a series of cultural and educational events.
The aim is to improve understanding of their community, particularly among young people.
“In the eyes of our society, Turkish Jews are the others of the other,” Lina Filiba, Vice President of the Jewish Community of Turkey said.
“We are shouting out that we’re Turks, but people keep seeing us as Israelis.”
The programme will launch this week with a concert featuring traditional Turkish music composed by Jews.

Other activities include a national survey of attitudes towards Jews, seminars in three Istanbul universities, cultural events and tours of Jewish sites for the general public, and a programme in Istanbul’s theology faculties.

Eighty per cent of the £93,000 programme is funded by the European Union.

There are 26,000 Jews in Turkey, out of a population of 73 million.
The community has been targeted by terrorists several times, including in 2003, when a pair of truck bombs exploded outside two synagogues, killing 20 people and wounding more than 300.

“We have wanted to do something like this for a very long time,” said Ms Filiba.

“We were made aware that we could benefit from European Union funding and submitted a carefully prepared programme. Our proposal was granted last year.”

The response so far has been positive.

“We are taking our first tentative steps towards bringing the communities together, hopefully our endeavours will prove worthwhile.”

    Last updated: 3:58pm, July 9 2009