A secular Turkish official addressing the bride and groom in an Istanbul synagogue, as reported in The Daily Sabah, is an intriguing sight. Is Turkey seeking to follow the 'landmark' Hanucah lighting ceremony in December with a 'landmark' wedding, to emphasise its new policy of improving relations between Turkey and Israel? Cynics may point to Turkey's need to replace Russian oil with Israeli natural gas.
The Besiktas mayor Murat Hazinedar addresses Selin Saporta and Vedat Peranva during their wedding ceremony
Istanbul's Neve Şalom synagogue hosted a historic wedding ceremony on
Sunday night. For the first time, it was the scene of a Jewish wedding
ceremony officiated by a local official. A large crowd of guests and
prominent names in the Turkish Jewish community attended the ceremony at
the synagogue in the city's Beyoğlu district. Murat Hazinedar, mayor of
Beşiktaş, officiated the wedding of Selin Saporta and Vedat Peranva
after chief rabbi İsak Haleva married the couple in a religious
İshak İbrahimzadeh, the head of Turkey's Jewish community, said on his
Twitter account that they prayed for the Turkish state and President
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the "landmark" ceremony.
Neve Şalom is the largest synagogue in Istanbul where the majority of
the 23,000 Jews in Turkey live and the preferred site for the weddings
of community members. Though religious weddings are not limited to
synagogues, a marriage license is required from the mayor's office or
local civil registry to validate it.
Turkey's Jewish community is among the few minorities that did not
suffer from treatment as second-class citizens in the past by the
Republic of Turkey -(a controversial statement - ed), which long pursued a policy turning a blind eye to
the problems of minorities or seeking to repress them by restraining
their rights. Neve Şalom synagogue, however, has been the target of
three deadly attacks since it was opened in 1951, raising security fears
amid the community.
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