Distant JEWISH ethnic group does "Aliyah"
The 1953 article

This article was published in 1953 Hazofe newspaper about the extraction of a distant community near Hakkari in south east Turkey.

In wednesday, a group of 11 members of a distant community in south Turkey will sail from Istanbul to Israel. Their existence was not known until 26 of them arrived to Istanbul in the beginning of this month, riding on donkeys, and under police protection. The othe 15 people were accommodated in the synagogue until they will sail next month. Most of the adults’s occupation was weaving but they all say they are willing to do any work in Israel.

The origin of this community is in a small Kurdish village near the Iraqi border. Recently, the 120 Muslim families did a lot of effort to convert the Jews to Islam and six years ago they burned down the synagogue. The Kurds of the Kurkurka did not agree the community will leave to Istanbul and the Jews gathered in their ghetto and kept armed guard for 43 days and nights until the community leader succeeded to sneak between the Kurd neighbors and make his way to the city of Hakkari near by. When he told the mayor what happened he sent the police to get the Jews of KurKurka. They traveled on donkeys for a long time, because there are no roads leading to this remote mountainous area.

When the Jewish people prepared to go on their way, the Kurds kidnapped a 14 years old Jewish boy named Mordechai Dekomanechi. But the boy declared he rather die than convert. When the community arrived to safety they asked the police, the interior affairs and department of justice for help and after an investigation a large force of police officers was sent to free to boy.

THe Jews of Kurkurka claim their ancestors settled in east Turkey before the Babylonian exile and their language is the ancient Aramaic of the Jews of Israel. They keep Kosher food, Shabat and Jewish holidays and have names like Abraham and Rachel. Since the synagogue was ruined they pray in houses and in Kipur they send to bring a Rabbi from a Jewish community in Iraq, across the border. Two years ago the gave two old valuable Tora books to a group of Iraqi Jews who went through their village on route to Israel. When they left the village they left all their belongings there but took Holy books – some very old with them. They say there are in the cemetery ther some gravestones more than 2,000 years old but most of the Jews in the village married local Muslims and assimilated.

One Comment

  1. מיכאל דמירל


    Forgotten Tiny Jewish Community Discovered; Existed 2,000 Years

    The existence of a long -forgotten tiny Jewish community in the remote Kurdish village of Cukurca, in south-eastern Turkey, was discovered today when all 26 members of the community straggled into Istanbul on donkeys, guarded by a police escort, ready to leave for Israel.

    Neither the general run of Turkish Jews nor historians of the Jewish community in Turkey were aware of these Jews until today, although they claim that their ancestors settled in the region of Cukurca, near the Iraq border, some 2,000 years ago. Up to six years ago, the ancient community maintained its own synagogue, but at that time the Kurds burned it to the ground.

    The 26 Jews, who will remain in a synagogue in Istanbul until they can sail for Israel, reported that in recent years their Moslem neighbors have been alternately urging and threatening them in an effort to convert them to Islam. The move to Istanbul, en route to Israel, was opposed by the Kurds. Fearing an attack, all members of the Jewish community assembled in their infinitesimal ghetto and maintained an armed watch for 43 days and nights.

    Finally the leader of the community managed to slip past his Moslem “neighbors” to the nearby town of Hakari. There he told his story to the local Mayor. The Mayor dispatched a police unit to escort the Jews to safety. The trip to safety was made on donkeys and took three days because there are no roads in that remote section of mountainous Anatolia.

    While the Jews were making their preparations for the journey, a 14-year-old boy was kidnapped by the Kurds in an attempt to convert him. The boy, Mordechai Dokumaci, refused to change his religion, telling his captors that he would die first.

    When the community reached safety, its leader appealed to the Turkish national police department and to the Ministries of Interior and Justice to rescue the boy. After an investigation, the police department sent a strong detachment to Cukurca and rescued Mordechai.

    The Jews of Cukurca still speak Aramaic. They have preserved many of the ancient Jewish traditions, including Kashruth and keeping the Sabbath as well as the Jewish holy days. They still use Biblical names such as Abraham and Rachel. After the destruction of their synagogue they met in private homes to conduct services.

    Two years ago they gave a party of Israel-bound Iraqi Jews who passed Curkurca two very ancient and valuable Torahs to take to Israel. This time, although they left all their possessions except for some clothing, they managed to rescue all their religious books, which are extremely old. Back in their village they left a cemetery in which there are tombstones dating back 1,000 years. They never intermarried with their Moslem neighbors and were in no way assimilated.

    Most of the adults are weavers. However, they have declared that in Israel they would be willing to work at any occupation offered them. The expenses for their care while they remain in Istanbul will be borne by the Jewish Agency, which is arranging early passage to Israel.

Leave a Reply to מיכאל דמירל Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *