Hanukah celebrated on the street for the first time

Hanukah celebrated in Ortaköy, Beşiktaş for the first time.

Starting with the lighting of the first candle on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar and going on for 8 days and nights, Hanukah is celebrated in a public space in a Muslim country for the first time.

Municipality of Beşiktaş hosted the celebration and Chief Rabbi İshak Haleve, Archbishop of Armenian Catholic Church of İstanbul Levon Zekiyan, President of the Turkish Jewish Community, Mr. Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch, representative of Armenian Patriarchate, Representative of Foundations General Assembly Minority Foundations Toros Alcan and Chairperson of Yeniköy Panayia Greek Orthodox Church and School Foundation Laki Vinga, undersecretaries of the Foreign Ministry, representatives from office of Muftu of Istanbul and the Mayor of Beşiktaş Murat Hazinedar attended the ceremony.

“This is a miracle”

Speaking at the ceremony, President of the Turkish Jewish Community Mr. Ishak Ibrahimzadeh reminded the opening of Grand Synagogue of Edirne and said:

“That opening was a milestone and now, we are experiencing a miracle. For years, we envied the people who light the Hanukah candles in many cities in the world. We haven’t shared the joy of our light of love in our country where we had this freedom many centuries ago. Our experiences caused fear and fear led to prejudices; so, we kept our light inside of us. However, if we couldn’t manage to overcome these fears and prejudices, like we are doing right here, they would destroy us all.”

“The most glorious experience in my life”

Chief Rabbi İshak Haleve spoke at the ceremony:

“Sharing the joy of being together on the last night of Hanukah is the most glorious experience in my life. I wish these candles enlighten our souls and bring prosperity to our country and world.”

After the speeches, the candles were lighted.

Brought up by İvo Molinas

In many countries, Hanukah has been celebrated with events on the streets and squares. Until now, there hasn’t been any Hanukah celebration in the open in Turkey. Şalom’s editor-in-chief İvo Molinas stated that he wants a Hanukah celebration in the open via his Twitter account. 

No announcement due to security concerns

After Molinas’ tweet, Municipality of Beşiktaş organized the celebration. Due to security concerns, Turkish Jewish Community invited only their members. 


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Uygar Gültekin