Two new Jewish prayer rooms were inaugurated at Istanbul's new international airport, considered to be the largest in the world.
The prayer rooms are situated in the airport's regular and business class lounges. The city's old Istanbul Atatürk Airport, located on the eastern side of the city, did not have a dedicated Jewish prayer room.
The new airport, located on the western side of the Bosporus Strait, 35 km northwest of the city center near the Black Sea coast, is a hub for Turkish Airlines, the world's largest carrier with flights to 122 countries, including 10 daily flights between Tel Aviv and Istanbul.
"There are more Turkish Airlines flights from Tel Aviv to Istanbul then from Istanbul to London," said Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, the Chabad emissary and Ashkenazi rabbi of Turkey. "they supply between 600 and 5,000 Kosher meals daily, certified by the Rabbinate of Turkey, under my supervision."
Rabbi Chitrik supplied the prayer rooms with Jewish prayer books for both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. The idea to open a Jewish prayer room was made by the airline he says.
"It is heartwarming that even in Istanbul, every Jew can lay tefillin and pray. The Turkish government does not interfere. Synagogues have been functioning in Istanbul for over 1,000 years. The Jewish community is, thank God, active and thriving," the rabbi added.