Turkey's Jews Host Ramadan Iftar at Restored Synagogue

Religious, political leaders tout coexistence in town where Jews were expelled in progroms.

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Jewish community members attend the re-opening ceremony of Great Synagogue in Edirne, western Turkey March 26, 2015.
Jewish community members attend the re-opening ceremony of Great Synagogue in Edirne, western Turkey March 26, 2015. Credit: Murad Sezer, Reuters

Turkey's Jewish community is using the occasion of Ramadan to highlight unity with the Muslim faith by hosting an outdoor iftar (fast-breaking meal) at a synagogue in Edirne, reported the Daily Sabah on Friday.

The feast was held outside the Great Edirne Synagogue, recently restored by the government, which stands in remembrance of the Jewish community that was forced from the city during the Thrace pogroms of the 1930s.

Just one Jewish family now resides in Edirne, but the event drew many from outside the city, including religious and political representatives such as Chief Rabbi sak Haleva and a Muslim mufti from Greece's Komotini.

Haleva, whose parents were originally from Edirne, addressed those in attendance in circular tables on the street outside the synagogue, calling Ramadan "a sacred month" and saying that Turkey's Jewish community lives in comfort and peace.

"Sharing our bread together in this iftar is perhaps the best example of how the coexistence fares well today," he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also caught wind of the event and sent a message to the dinner's organizers, underlining the peaceful coexistence in Turkey, according to the Daily Sabah.

Mustafa Yeneroğlu, Parliament's human rights committee head, told the gathering that the Jewish community is a central element of Turkey regardless of the "policies of other countries." He stressed that the government would continue to fight anti-Semitism, saying that "Our struggle against the hatred, hate speech and hostility toward a community will not cease as we have an approach that sees different communities as elements enriching these lands."

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