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.

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Read more at Salom

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

 

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin