Leader of Turkish Jewish community found dead following earthquake

The funerals of Saul and Fortuna Cenudioğlu are set to take place in Istanbul


The leader of a Jewish community in Turkey has been found dead, a day after his wife’s body was discovered among the ruins of their collapsed building.

Saul and Fortuna Cenudioğlu were killed after a giant 7.8 magnitude quake hit Turkey and Syria in the early hours of Monday morning.

The couple’s bodies are currently on their way from Antakya to Istanbul, where a funeral is set to take place, Rabbi Mendy Chitrik told the JC.

A spokesperson for Zaka search and rescue workers confirmed the news, saying: “The rescuers worked intensively with dedication and in difficult conditions for many hours, until the two were found. Unfortunately, they were found dead.”

Mr Cenudioğlu has lived in Antakya since his birth in 1941 and operated a family textiles business. 

He “did everything in his capacity to have the small Jewish community of Antakya thrive and connect with the rest of the communities in Turkey and the world,” Ms Cenudioğlu told the JTA.

Speaking from Istanbul on Tuesday, the couple’s niece, Ela Cenudioğlu, expressed her fear that she would never see her aunt and uncle again. 

“I’m traumatised,” she said.

“Their building is ruined, especially their floor is ruined. We don’t know whether they survived.

“It looks terrible, all the places I was, all the places I had loved through my childhood, where I spent my summers, my parents’ house, is all gone now.” 

The remainder of the city’s Jewish community were evacuated to Istanbul in the quake’s immediate aftermath, ending a 2,500 year history.

The combined death toll in Turkey and Syria now stands at 22,368. 

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