Uncategorized Turkey: Great Synagogue welcomes faithful after 50 years

Turkey: Great Synagogue welcomes faithful after 50 years

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc

(AA) – Jewish worshippers in Turkey held a religious service on Thursday in the newly restored Great Synagogue in Edirne province, the first such ceremony in 46 years.

The morning prayer, during which the Ten Commandments and hymns were recited, was held by David Azuz, who also held the last prayer service 46 years ago.

An estimated 200-250 people attended the service in the synagogue which recently reopened after a four-year, $2.2 million restoration project

“I would like to thank those who contributed (to the re-opening of the Great Synagogue), including Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc,” Azuz said.

Attending the event, Arinc said the project was an important indicator of how far freedoms of religion and conscience have come in Turkey.

“I remember the Jewish citizens – who died defending their city (Edirne against past invasions) for their Muslim Turkish neighbors – with the same gratitude as our martyrs,” Arinc said.

The Great Synagogue was constructed in 1907 in Kaleici village in Edirne on the orders of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II. It lost its ceiling and its side wall in 1997.

The synagogue has a capacity of nearly 1,200 people.

It had been in use by the local Jewish population up to 1983 but later fell into neglect due to a lack of worshippers.

The Directorate General of Foundations, which undertook the restoration project, announced its completion earlier this week

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