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Honorary President's Message Print E-mail

Dear Visitors,

The basic purpose of humanity is to achieve a permanent state of peace for a better world. It is the aim of the Quincentennial Foundation to inform the wider public of the sanctuary that has been offered to the Jews, who have suffered such a painful history, by Turkish and similar societies through values which represent an example to humanity. Further, and through this great example, proof is given that whatever their ethnic or religious affiliations and origins, peoples can live together in harmony.

The agonies that the Jews lived through in the Iberian Peninsula during the 15th Century, and the subsequent provision of sanctuary to them in the lands of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic, where they have always been greeted with tolerance, represents one of this phenomenon's most striking examples throughout history.

Indeed, it is a great misfortune that even in recent history, sometimes for economic motivations, Jews have witnessed terrible tyranny and persecution in societies where they had been thought secure. During these times, some of them were saved by the Turks, with their tradition of opening their arms to the oppressed.

It is our hope that the secular and humanistic culture of Turkey, as an example by which to avert the clash of civilisations, may be assimilated by other countries, and that a more harmonious and stable world be left to future generations.

In exhibiting under one roof, in spite of all these differences, past and current examples of coexistence and the historical and present life of Jews in Turkish lands, the Quincentennial Foundation Jewish Museum of Turkey conveys all this to future generations, and is a means for the expression of gratitude by our Jewish compatriots.

The building that currently houses the museum was constructed as the Zülfaris Synagogue during the 17th Century, during the period when my ancestor David Kamhi was Chief Rabbi. The Chief Rabbinate assigned this building to the Quincentennial Foundation on the condition that it would be converted into a museum.

Thus, those who have assured this possibility that gives us such joy are commemorated, and I offer my congratulations and gratitude to Mr. Naim Güleryüz who has developed this museum, as well as to all those who have given their efforts towards this accomplishment.

Jak Kamhi
The Quincentennial Foundation, Honorary President