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

Spain’s Anti-Israel Agenda

What interest does Madrid have in the creation of a Palestinian state? Elliott Abrams raised this question a few days ago, when discussing ongoing Spanish efforts to block the transfer of arms to Israel. He points to multiple opinion surveys suggesting that Spain is among Europe’s most anti-Semitic countries:

The point of including that information here is to explain the obvious: Spain’s anti-Israel extremism is not based in fancy international political analyses, but instead reflects both the extreme views of hard-left parties in the governing coalition and a very traditional Spanish anti-Semitism. Spain’s government lacks the moral standing to lecture the state of Israel on how to defend itself against terrorist murderers. Its effort to deprive Israel of the means of defense is deeply immoral. Every effort should be made to prevent these views from further infecting the politics and foreign policy of the European Union and its member states.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, Palestinian statehood, Spain