Jews attend opening ceremony of synagogue, visit their ancestors graves

EDIRNE: Attending the newly restored synagogue, hundreds of Jewish people flocked into western Turkish province of Edirne on Thursday to visit ancient graves of their ancestors of Sephardi Jews who have settled in Anatolian lands in 15th century after being banished from Spain and Portugal.

Visitors attended the opening ceremony of newly renovated Turkey’s biggest synagogue in the province. Along with Jewish community members across Turkey and local officials, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu also attended the opening ceremony. The renovation works at the Synagogue have started in 2010 by Turkish government and cost for 5.7 million Turkish Liras (USD 1 million).

After the ceremony, hundreds Jews who came to Edirne from all over the Turkey and from different countries of the world visited the ancient graveyard where their ancestors laid to rest. The graveyard and the Synagogue in Edirne were left to their fate as of Jewish people began to leave the province following World War I and it was damaged in due course of time due to neglect.

Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews or simply Sephardim, are a Jewish ethnic division whose ethnogenesis and emergence as a distinct community of Jews coalesced in the Iberian Peninsula around the start of the 2nd millennium (i.e., about the year 1000).

They established communities throughout Spain and Portugal, where they traditionally resided, evolving what would become their distinctive characteristics and diasporic identity. Their millennial residence as an open and organised Jewish community in Iberia was brought to an end starting with the issuance of the Alhambra Decree by Spain’s Catholic Monarchs in the late 15th century, which resulted in a combination of internal and external migrations, mass conversions, and executions.