The Turkish Jewish community hosted its annual iftar (fast-breaking) dinner on Wednesday at the Neve Shalom Synagogue in İstanbul.
Some 400 people attended the 13th iftar to be held by the community. Among the guests were İstanbul Chief Mufti Rahmi Yaran, Armenian Acting Patriarch Aram Ateşyan, İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, Beyoğlu Mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan and İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Turan Çolakkadı as well as many other religious leaders, representatives of civil society organizations and members of the press.
Chief Rabbi of Turkey İsak Haleva said in a speech following the meal that the dinner was evidence that people of different social, ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds have been living together in peace and unity in this country and added that he was proud to sit at such a dinner table.
“We have been living side-by-side for centuries; we have been together for our good and bad days and we have shared the same fate,” Haleva said and expressed a desire for Ramadan to bring peace and goodwill to the nation and the world.
Also speaking at the event, Turkish Jewish community leader Sami Herman said the spirit of Ramadan had been diffused to the hearts of those with different beliefs.
“Fasting has the same meaning among the Abrahamic religions. It means purification, self-reflection and abstaining from bad deeds,” Herman stated. At the end of his speech, he presented a check for TL 10,000 to a school in the province of Van, which was hit by a devastating earthquake last year in which over 500 people died and many buildings collapsed.
In his address to the guests, Topbaş said he felt honored to be part of the dinner and emphasized unity, peace and fraternity. “People who share the same feelings get on well with each other, not those who speak the same language,” Topbaş said, adding that religions do not incite war but bring peace, love, tolerance, fraternity and unity.