Jews of the Oldest Community in Turkey Arrive in Istanbul En Route to Israel
The first group of Israel-bound emigrants from the Jewish community of Van–a town in easternmost Turkey–have arrived here. They are being sheltered, together with Kurdish Jews from western Iran, in a synagogue here while awaiting transportation to the Jewish state.
The Jewish community of Van is one of the oldest in the world. Its history dates back to the period prior to destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem. Numbering about 250 persons, the Van community maintained no contact with other Jewish communities in Turkey. In addition to Turkish and Kurdish, the Jews of Van speak Aramaic, which they consider their mother tongue. They also use Hebrew letters in their correspondence and carefully observe all traditional Jewish practices. The synagogue in Van contains a valuable library of ancient books, manuscripts and scrolls.
Conditions of Jews in Kurdish Town Reported Improved but Emigration Continues
The situation of the Jews of the Kurdish town of Rezaye, in Persia, has improved somewhat recently, but the fanatical regulations of the Moslem authorities continue to make life difficult for the Jews, it was reported here today by a number of Jewish refugees from Rezaye who just arrived here after crossing the Iran-Turkish frontier. Over 300 Jews have made their way across the border to Istanbul in recent weeks.
The refugees report that last May there was a pogrom in Kurdistan and a number of Jews were murdered. Some of the fanatical “laws” in force in the province prohibit Jews from touching anything belonging to a Moslem. With the fear of further pogroms pressing them, the Jews of Rezaye, who numbered 3,000 before the recent exodus, are planning to leave the town for good. Travel groups have already been organized and it is expected that the ancient Jewish community of that city will cease to exist by the end of the year. Other Jewish communities in Kurdistan are also planning to emigrate.
The passage of Kurdish Jews through Turkey en route to Israel was arranged recently between representatives of the Turkish Foreign Office and of the Israel legation in this country.
Bashkale jews leave town
The Canadian Jewish news, November 30, 1962, page 11
The Jews of the town of Bashkale, in Eastern Turkey have started to sell their properties in advance of leaving the town. They are following the example of Mr. Sasson Yemer and his family who left to settle temporarily in Istanbul after the kidnap of their 13-year-old daughter three months ago by a Moslem Kurd who forced her to marry him. The Yeners have a son and wto other daughters.
All interventions to have the kidnapped girl returned to her family have so far proven unsuccessful. The Moslem, Kemal Sakrak, a waiter, said he had papers signed by the girl’s father giving his consent to the wedding. In fact, Mr. Yener was forced, at gun point, to sign such a document. He immediately reported the fact to Chief Rabbi David Asseo in Istanbul. An intervention in Ankara by the Chief Rabbi brought no success