VIDEO – Guests of the Ortaköy Etz Ahayim Synagogue in Istanbul – a holy place that has witnessed countless weddings, ceremonies, bar mitzvahs and hopeful prayers throughout decades and generations – commemorated the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.
Millions of Jews, who were systematically murdered by Nazi regime during World War II, were commemorated in the Turkish city.
Besides the members of the local Jewish community, the ceremony was also attended by Holocaust survivors, the chief rabbi, Turkish government officials, Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew and citizens of Istanbul.
The guests of the ceremony were met at the entrance of Etz Ahayim synagogue with a photograph exhibition by a renowned photography artist Alberto Modiano.
The exhibition, entitled “The Symbols of the Holocaust,” was comprised of photos taken by Modiano himself, who visited the infamous death camps recently. The photos spoke for themselves without the necessity of additional words.
The ceremony started with an instrumental performance of romantic composer Max Bruch’s renowned masterpiece “Kol Nidrei." Bruch’s composition was performed by Jerfi Aji on the piano and Yelda Özge Öztürk on the cello.
Following the notes that filled the room with emotions, the president of the Turkish Jewish Community, İshak İbrahimzade, came up to the rostrum and made a brief presentation about humanity’s challenge against racism, accompanied by a reading of Pavel Friedman’s touchy poem "The Butterfly".
“Let their memories be blessed,” said Chief Rabbi, Ishak Haleva. Candles of hope were lit in honor of the Holocaust victims.
A symbolic railway, with messages written by the students of the Jewish high school in Istanbul, are clear enough to express the feelings and expectations of younger generations.
The Holocaust Remembrance Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution of November 1, 2005. As one of the contracting states of the Resolution, Turkey has been marking the Remembrance Day for the past three years.
At the Ortaköy Etz Ahayim synagogue, the general message of the ceremony is both on the lips and the hearts of everyone in attendance: Never again. The Holocaust will forever be a warning to all people facing dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.