Turkish Jews Search for Answers ; A Suicide Attack against Two Istanbul Synagogues This Weekend Killed 25 and Wounded More Than 300

By Ilene Prusher writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, November 19, 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Turkish Jews Search for Answers ; A Suicide Attack against Two Istanbul Synagogues This Weekend Killed 25 and Wounded More Than 300


Ilene Prusher writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Berta Rayna goes to synagogue only on special occasions - like the bar mitzvah she was attending on Saturday when powerful suicide bombings hit two of the city's main synagogues. The attacks killed 25 people and injured over 300 in a strike that authorities say was perpetrated by Turks trained by Al Qaeda.

Tuesday, the red-haired grandmother was one of several thousand mourners who huddled in the freezing rain to lay to rest six victims from the Jewish community - a minority amid Muslim casualties. As Ms. Rayna stood with her daughter and granddaughter, she struggled with the images running on replay in her head: the crash of the explosion, the shattering of crystal teardrops in the chandeliers, the people who didn't make it.

Turkey's entire Jewish community is in a similar state of shock after the weekend bombings, trying to come to terms with its future in a Muslim country which has been largely hospitable to Jews - but which is no longer on the fringes of the map of the Middle East's problems. Although synagogues and individual Jews here have been attacked before, Saturday's bombings appear to mark the first time Turks have been involved in a major attack on a Jewish target. A 1986 attack on the Neve Shalom synagogue, where Rayna was on Saturday, was carried out by Palestinians affiliated with the Abu Nidal group.

"I married all three of my children there," she says, her blue eyes turning glassy behind her large spectacles. "But right now, I wouldn't go back there for quite a while."

Fears of additional attacks have raised concerns in Istanbul that the city's Jews, a largely middle-class population of about 20,000 people, will have a hard time picking up the pieces. Already, many of the city's approximately 15 synagogues are in well-guarded, unmarked buildings, while youth and social clubs are tucked anonymously into quiet side streets.

Still, the community had been undergoing something of a renaissance in the past few years, with an upsurge in cultural activities. In September, the community participated in a European- wide day of Jewish culture by holding openhouses in all of its synagogues, institutions, and museums. Now, those doors are likely to close - all social activities and meetings have been canceled until further notice.

"I have a feeling that this will affect people in a very bad way. People were just starting to send their kids out to be more involved with the community, and now I think they will be more afraid," says Stella Issever, a community veteran who came back to Istanbul from the US Thursday - and narrowly missed the bombings by choosing to attend a different synagogue. "But for someone who goes to synagogue, it's a part of life, and you can't not go back to it."

Silvyo Ovadya, a spokesman for the community, says he hopes the community will recover as soon as the buildings are repaired. "In the long term, people will come again, because the real issue isn't Turkish terrorism, it's international terrorism. Maybe they used Turkish people to do it, but the planning was not made in Turkey."

Indeed, Turkish officials say that the bombings have links to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, and that the men suspected of carrying out the bombings had training abroad.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Turkish Jews Search for Answers ; A Suicide Attack against Two Istanbul Synagogues This Weekend Killed 25 and Wounded More Than 300
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?