Growing Up Jewish in Ankara

Turkey’s present-day capital was once home to a thriving Jewish community, albeit never one as large or prominent as those in Istanbul and Izmir. Leyla Algamaz, who emigrated from there to Israel in 1971, recalls her childhood in the 1940s and 50s. (Interview by Dora Niyego.)

The Jews of Ankara were not very observant; we tried to perform rituals to the best of our abilities. The most important tradition was to attend the synagogue, which we called the kal. If they had to work [on Shabbat], community members would make sure to attend synagogue in the morning, then attend to their businesses. On Friday evenings, men returning early from work would change to their Shabbat clothes and attend services.

Friday-night meals were always better and different [from those served on] other nights. [There was always] delicious food and a meticulously set dinner table. Every woman knew that her husband could come back from services with guests. If anyone was in Ankara due to business or military service and attended the synagogue, he could be sure that he would be invited over to dinner. . . .

Volunteers in the community would help the needy, visit the sick, and offer support and attend to families with members on their death beds as well as [perform the ritual purification of the deceased]. These ladies would perform their duties willingly and sincerely.

Read more at Salom

More about: History & Ideas, Sephardim, Shabbat, Turkey, Turkish Jewry


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University