Friday, September 22nd 2023   |


President ‍Recep ‍Tayyip ‍Erdogan ‍of ‍Turkey ‍won ‍reelection ‍yesterday ‍against ‍opposition ‍candidate ‍Kemal ‍Kilicdaroglu. ‍Erdogan ‍has ‍served ‍as ‍prime ‍minister, ‍and ‍then ‍president ‍of ‍Turkey ‍for ‍two ‍decades. ‍He ‍had ‍been ‍seen ‍as ‍a ‍moderate ‍ruler ‍who ‍promoted ‍religious ‍freedoms. ‍But ‍in ‍recent ‍years ‍he ‍has ‍moved ‍to ‍the ‍right, ‍including ‍strengthening ‍Turkey’s ‍ties ‍to ‍Russia, ‍which ‍led ‍him ‍to ‍oppose ‍Sweden ‍and ‍Finland’s ‍plan ‍to ‍join ‍NATO ‍(of ‍which ‍Turkey ‍is ‍a ‍member). ‍

There ‍is ‍a ‍long ‍Jewish ‍history ‍in ‍Turkey, ‍with ‍Mt. ‍Ararat ‍considered ‍to ‍be ‍the ‍traditional ‍landing ‍place ‍for ‍Noah’s ‍ark. ‍Jews ‍have ‍lived ‍in ‍Anatolia ‍(now ‍Turkey) ‍since ‍at ‍least ‍the ‍5th ‍century ‍BC, ‍with ‍the ‍earliest ‍community ‍likely ‍Romaniote ‍Jews ‍from ‍the ‍Eastern ‍Mediterranean. ‍Eventually ‍Sephardic ‍Jews ‍became ‍the ‍predominant ‍Jewish ‍population ‍of ‍the ‍area, ‍with ‍Ashkenazi ‍Jews ‍emigrating ‍to ‍the ‍Ottoman ‍Empire ‍in ‍the ‍15th ‍century. ‍Among ‍the ‍Ashkenazi ‍Jews ‍was ‍a ‍German ‍rabbi, ‍Yitzhak ‍Sarfati, ‍who ‍became ‍chief ‍rabbi ‍of ‍Edirne, ‍at ‍the ‍time ‍the ‍capital ‍of ‍the ‍Ottoman ‍Empire. ‍Rabbi ‍Sarfati ‍wrote ‍a ‍letter ‍urging ‍other ‍Ashkenazi ‍Jews ‍to ‍move ‍to ‍Turkey, ‍emphasizing ‍what ‍point?

Mt. Ararat. Credit: Panegyrics of Granovetter via Wikimedia Commons.

A. Rabbi Sarfati referenced Jeremiah, 29:14 which reads “And I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places to which I have banished you…and I will bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.” He went on to write “I urge my Ashkenazi brethren to join me here to live among our Muslim brothers until the Lord is ready to redeem us back to the Promised Land.”

B. Rabbi Sarfati wrote in his letter, “Is it not better for you to live under Muslims than under Christians? Here every man may dwell at peace under his own vine and fig-tree.”

C. Rabbi Sarfati, who was also trained as a shochet (a ritual slaughterer), said, “Our people can live best among the Muslim people. Our prophets are their prophets, and they are men of peace who, like us, do not eat the flesh of the swine.”

D. Rabbi Sarfati quoted B’reisheit, 8:4, which says “in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” He then noted that “If God chose for Noah to land in Ararat, surely it behooves us to follow the lead of our Lord.”

E. Noted Rabbi Sarfati, “Doesn’t it make sense to live in Turkey, a kosher animal? Better than Frankfurt (you know that ain’t an all beef sausage)!”

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