“Every step that brings peace between people is blessed and desirable”. So rabbi Menachem Mendel Chitrik, Istanbul Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi and leader of the Islamic countries rabbinical alliance. “It is clear that if relations between Israel and Turkey improve, it will have a positive impact also on Jewish life in the country”, he pointed out a few months ago in an interview with Pagine Ebraiche. And in the recent successful negotiations, there is also his contribution.
Last December the alliance had a meeting with Erdogan in Ankara, at the request of the Turkish president himself. It was a first discussion on strategic issues, which was followed, in March, by Israeli President Herzog visit to Turkey. “There is Jewish life in Islamic countries”, said the Rabbi. “And it is not a façade presence, but something that we can touch. Of course, the situation differs from country to country, and of course there are still important obstacles and challenges to face. But this coexistence, the coexistence between Jews and Muslims, is not only possible but also necessary”.
It is a message he relaunched a few days ago to Pagine Ebraiche. “The hope – he said – is for the situation to progress even more, one step after another”. Starting from Turkey, Rabbi Chitrik suggests. A country that was often problematic in the past, although, he acknowledges, “we have our synagogue, our meeting places, our services: this has never been lacking, even not in the most difficult moments”.
Rabbi Chitrick has long been at the forefront of dialogue. Some days ago while visiting a mosque, he shared a joyous snapshot with an imam and some students. “I don’t know what you think of the future”, he commented. “But the photo of an imam and a rabbi surrounded by happy children in a room of a mosque gives me a certain positivity”.
Above, rabbi Chitrik with imam Osman Demirel and some Quran students.