Edited by: TJVNews.com
A historic first took place on Wednesday evening as a very special celebration on the 4th night of Chanukah took place at New York’s Turkish House (Türkevi). According to published reports, the centuries-old culture of Sephardic Jews was honored at ceremonies hosted by the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Turkish Consulate in New York.
Many believe this represents a breakthrough in terms of establishing closer ties between the international Jewish community and Turkey.
Chanukah is the “festival of lights” and as such a 19th-century menorah which now belongs to Jewish collector Thomas Gelb was lit at the ceremony marking the 4th night of the 8 day holiday. The 150-year-old menorah was recovered from a synagogue in Prague burnt down by the Nazis during World War II.
Addressing the joyous gathering was Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Hasan Murat Mercan. He told the attendees that the Turkish House is home to all Turkish Jews, their friends and relatives.
”The Jewish community is an inseparable part of our land, our community, whether they live in Türkiye or New York,” he said, as was reported by the Daily Sabah. ”Türkiye has been home to different religions, different cultures, and all of them helped with the cornerstone of our collective history … Our diversity reflects our strength.”
Turkish Consul General in New York Reyhan Özgur said that Wednesday evening’s gathering is another testament to the growing friendship between the Turkish and Jewish peoples.
”The doors of Turkish House are always wide open to our Jewish friends. Today’s Hanukkah celebration is historic in the sense that for the first time, menorah candles will be lit in Turkish House, ” he said.
Ozgur noted that Sephardic Jews have significantly enriched the culture and economy of Turkish society by becoming an integral part of the country.
Asaf Zamir, consul general of Israel in New York, thanked Türkiye for celebrating Hanukkah at the Turkish House and for its friendship. ”The fact that you decided to have this event this evening is extremely important to us,” he said.
The Chief Rabbi of Türkiye, Isak Haleva, also attended the ceremony from Istanbul via videoconference to wish Jews in the United States a happy Chanukah.