First Jewish wedding at historical synagogue in northwest Turkey in 41 years
A Jewish wedding ceremony was held in a historical synagogue in the northwestern province of Edirne on May 29 for the first time in 41 years. The synagogue had recently been restored by the Edirne Directorate General of Foundations and reopened for worship.
Güneş Mitrani, 30, and Harun Esentürk, 34, got married in the synagogue, which also hosted the wedding of Rifat Mitrani, who was the only representative of the Jewish community in Edirne, and Sara Mitrani years ago.
Built for the Jews taking refuge in the Ottoman Empire in 1492, the synagogue is Europe’s biggest and the world’s third biggest synagogue.
Tight security measures were taken in the neighborhood around the synagogue, including the closure of roads leading to the synagogue and security searches of the wedding guests arriving from Istanbul. The guests also went through an x-ray machine at the entrance of the synagogue, which was installed a month ago.
The female and male guests watched the ceremony from separate places in the hall.
Edirne Deputy Gov. Mehmet Tekinarslan and Mayor Recep Gürkan, as well as Turkish Jewish Society head İshak İbrahimzade, the couple’s relatives and approximately 3,000 guests, participated in the wedding.
Beadsmen Nesim and Viktor Beruhiyel from the Jewish Society administered the wedding ceremony, during which prayers were said for Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“No matter what they say, no matter what they think, as Atatürk said, the Turkish Republic will last forever,” said the beadsmen, referring to the words of Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The official marriage ceremony was performed by the mayor after prayers and a religious wedding.
Gürkan wished the couple a lifetime of happiness and stressed that “history was being written.”
“We are experiencing the honor and joy of taking part in the first [Jewish] wedding after 41 years. I would wish for you to stay in Edirne, but it’s impossible to fix. However, please come to Edirne more often. We are expecting you,” Gürkan said.
Jewish Heritage Tours in Istanbul
For Visitors ;
Security in the Jewish community is very tight. An essential prelude to any visit to any synagogue in Turkey is contact with the Jewish Heritage tour company in Istanbul . They will ask you to complete a form giving details of a reference your adress in Turkey and the dates and times you wish to visit particular synagogues…
After the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in1453 , Sultan Mehmet II ( the Conqueor 1451-1481 ) encouraged immigration to repopulate the city. Jewish communities were invited to take up residence at Hasköy on the eastern bank of the Golden Horn. Under Sultan Beyazit II ( 1481-1512 ) Jews persecuted in Spain and Portugal were encouraged to establish themselves in the Ottoman Empire. In Istanbul the new immigrants settled mostly near the Balat quarter on the western bank of the Golden Horn where a Jewish community had existed since Byzantine times. Jews also settled in villages along the western shore of the Bosphorus….
The area around the Galata Tower in Beyoglu is of prime interest to visitors touring the Jewish interest sites. The neighborhood has bustling street life the synagogues have great historical and artictic value,and all sites are within easy walking distance of one another.
This is another of the quarters in which Jews were settled after their expulsion from Spain enlarging a community which had lived here since Byzantine times. Today Balat is a working-class district on the shores of the Golden Horn.