“We Found Jews In The Cold Trying To Warm Themselves Around A Fire”

Illustrative. People warm themselves next to a collapsed building in Malatya, Turkey, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. Search teams and aid are pouring into Turkey and Syria as rescuers working in freezing temperatures dig through the remains of buildings flattened by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

The Rav of the Ashkenazi kehilla in Istanbul, Rav Mendy Chitrik, told Kan News about what he witnessed in Antakya, a city in southern Turkey where the worst of the quake’s destruction occurred.

“We wanted to help the Jews here to leave,” he said. “Seventy percent of the city is destroyed. We found lone Jews sitting around small fires trying to warm themselves.”

Rav Chitrik traveled on Monday to Antakya, where Jews have lived for over 2,000 years, and removed ancient Sifrei Torah from the shul in the city that remained intact after the quake but was damaged, with wide cracks in the walls.

Meanwhile, the fate of the president of the kehilla in Antakya and his wife, Saul and Fortuna Cenudioglu, appears grim. Their daughter Rachel, who lives in Israel, spoke with Reshet Bet on Wednesday and said that sadly there is a lack of rescue forces in the area and her parents’ building hasn’t even been searched. “Searches? Not really,” she said. “My brother is there, there are no resources – a few bulldozers they have there are being used wherever they hear signs of life.”

Rav Chitrik said on Tuesday evening that they’re still hoping for a neis.”It will become more and more difficult as more time passes. We have to reach the building with trucks and equipment, it’s not simple because there are many [collapsed] buildings blocking the way. We climbed on top of them to reach the area.”

There are 15,000-20,000 Jews living in Turkey but there were only 14 Jews still living in Antakya prior to the earthquake.

In the video below, Chief Rabbi of Turkey Ishak Haleva can be seen saying a tefilla for the earthquake victims:

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)