Traditionally a secular, Western-leaning country bridging Europe and Asia, Turkey has recently significantly raised its profile in the Arab world. Its stronger than expected growth and sharp recovery from the effects of the global recession have helped make it the region’s top economic performer, reinforcing its ascent.
The Turkish Jewish community, a minority in the country for centuries, continues to enjoy long-established good relations with the government. It has a deeply ingrained tradition of self-sufficiency, and a highly developed system of communal institutions. The prosperity traditionally enjoyed by the community has declined in recent years, and rising costs—especially for security measures—have further taxed its resources. With many Jewish-owned businesses hurt by global competition, the community continues to face financial challenges despite the country’s economic rebound.
JDC in Turkey serves primarily in an advisory role, working with leaders to:
- Revitalize Jewish life by providing technical assistance to local institutions, maintaining close contact with community leaders, supporting training and job placement services for the unemployed, and helping with resource development. JDC supports informal Jewish educational activities throughout the country and is working with the Jewish school in Istanbul to secure funding for scholarships and other needs of its growing enrollment.
- Develop tomorrow’s Jewish leaders through regional and international leadership development programs, Jewish learning opportunities, and the community’s own Hadracha Training Institute, which offers a variety of seminars and follow-up activities for young adults and community activists. Hadracha graduates now serve as youth leaders and facilitators for other communities in this region.
- Rescue victims of emergencies by working with the Jewish community and a local NGO to purchase heaters for displaced victims of the October 2011 earthquake in southeastern Turkey and supporting the construction of a school in the city of Van. JDC also supported the launch in Istanbul of a commercial laundry vocational training project for young adults with mental disabilities.
Find out how JDC’s leadership training is enabling young volunteers like Lisi to recruit hundreds of unaffiliated young people to Istanbul’s Jewish community.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2011, the JDC-supported Hadracha Training Institute extended its program to a group of young Jewish leaders from India, helping to enhance networking between Turkish Jewry and other Jewish communities.