Problems arise over burial sites

11 Temmuz 2009 - 00:00Son Güncelleme : 10 Temmuz 2009 - 18:58

ISTANBUL - There is an ongoing dispute amid the Turkish Jewish community between Sephardi Jews from Spain and Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe concerning burial sites in cemeteries.

The office of the Hakham Bashi (chief rabbi) put an ad in the daily Şalom stating that the Sephardis were reserving burial places in Ashkenazi cemeteries and that the Ashkenazis were doing the same in Sephardi cemeteries.

The Hakham Bashi warned the community that this posed a "big problem" and asked people reserving burial plots in the other’s cemeteries to consult him first. The Ashkenazi Foundation gave a statement that their "door is open to everyone" after the ad was published and called its acting board to an emergency meeting.

Members of the Jewish community said the Ashkenazis made up 5 percent of Jews in Turkey and that Sephardi cemeteries were running out of room. Until now, Sephardis and Ashkenazis married to each have preferred to be buried side by side.

Silivio Ovadya, a leader in the Jewish community, said there were six cemeteries for Sephardi Jews and one for Ashkenazi Jews and the community did not have a problem with cemeteries. Ovadya said the Ulus Cemetery was more popular in the community, like Zincirlikuyu Cemetery is for Muslims.

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