Police raid Istanbul synagogue on Sabbath
Police raided the Hemdat Yisrael synagogue in Istanbul on a recent Sabbath, demanding identification from worshipers, many of whom carried no identification because of the Sabbath restrictions. While those who did not have identification were able to present it at a police station after the Sabbath, it seems that this is not the only recent provocation
against the Jewish community in Turkey.
The Turkish Milliyet newspaper reported that the Muslim government in Turkey appears to be cracking down on non-Muslim minorities. The individual communities are not being permitted to have their own leaders; one person will be recognized by the government to represent all the minorities as one. As the Christian community outnumbers the Jewish one, it is expected that a Christian will serve as “Chief Rabbi.” This issue may have been resolved, however; see below.
In addition, Christian and Jewish children are being placed in separate non-Muslim public school classes. In Jewish schools, only Turkish citizens are allowed to be registered – preventing the son of a Jewish United States consul worker from studying in a Jewish school.
Leaders of several minority religious communities convened for an emergency meeting last month to discuss the worsening situation.
Rabbi Yitzchak Haleva, Chief Rabbi of Turkey, says it’s “much ado about nothing.” Speaking with Israeli media sources last week, Rabbi Haleva said that all misunderstandings had been resolved and that he himself will be running for re-election for the position of Chief Rabbi about two months from now. Regarding the mid-services Sabbath check of ID’s, Rabbi Haleva told Makor Rishon’s Yitzchak Hildesheimer that it was only a matter having to do with internal security.
A Turkish Jew quoted on Ynet did not sound confident, however: “Everyone here is apathetic, they are involved in their own business and their work - but we do feel that the situation has changed, even though it is being ignored. It is reminiscent of other periods in history…”
Has anyone learned from the last time this happened?