WATCH: Chabad Shliach Rescues Sifrei Torah From Damaged Shul In Turkey


Rav Mendy Chitrik, Chabad shliach and Rav of the Ashkenazi kehilla in Istanbul, traveled on Monday to Antakya (historically known as Antioch), the city that suffered the greatest destruction from the earthquakes, in order to oversee aid efforts.

Sadly, the Nasi of the Jewish kehilla in the city and his wife are feared to have lost their lives in the quake.

“The shul was damaged by the quake so we decided to remove the Sifrei Torah so they won’t be destroyed,” Rav Chitrik told Radio103FM on Tuesday morning. “We’re removing sefarim that are 400 years old.”

“The Jewish kehilla in Antakya is very ancient, it was built by Antiochus 2,500 years ago. It was quite sad to remove the Sifrei Torah but it was necessary. Who knows now when the kehilla will be restored.”

The Jewish kehilla in the city numbers only about ten families.

Rav Chitrik described the destruction in the city. “Seventy percent of Antakya was apparently destroyed, the Jews who lived there left for Istanbul. This is a kehilla that has been here since the city was founded – only about 20-30 Jews remain. It’s hard to believe they’ll return.”

“As soon as we heard what happened, we came here together with the heads of the Jewish community in Istanbul. We can only daven and work hard. Jews around the world are concerned about the Jews here – it’s heartwarming.”

“Daven – we’ll all daven together,” Rav Chitrik concluded.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. Is it “rescues”? or more like “loots” and “steals” ancient religious artifacts from an old native community. If you ask the locals they will tell you what they think of him. He’s nothing but a stationed foreign thief.

  2. This was not a “rescue” operation. These ancient scrolls belong to an ancient community. A foreign western individual who is not a member of that community, who happened to live in Turkey for some shady “official mission”, travels to an ancient city more than thousand miles away, breaks into the community’s damaged shul after an earthquake, and removes their ancient scrolls, without the community’s knowledge or consent. That is pure looting and smuggling of priceless private property. I know exactly where those scrolls are going to end up. No shame

  3. Mendy Chitrik is not on any shady official mission. He is, like most Chabad emissaries a businessman. Like many of them he is a restauranteur and caterer. Outside of the major Jewish centers in the USA and Western Europe that is the way most “Shlichim of the Rebbe zt”l or Shlita” depending just how far from Yiddishkeit they are, make their parnosa. On the side they sell to the gullible their brand of all inclusive Judaism and fundraise for their “special activities”. It is only the rare special ones who don’t fall out with the established Jewish communities.

  4. Yeshiva world, I can’t believe you are publishing these comments.
    What “businessman” sticks around after a devastating earthquake? What “businessman” travels into a devastated area instead of cutting his losses and going home?
    If someone wants to be a “caterer and restaurateur,” there is PLENTY of business in the US. Shluchim make food because no one else is, and they do need money to survive on.
    And yes, these scrolls do belong to an ancient Jewish community. Many of whom are no longer alive due to this earthquake. We should all be glad that looters didn’t hold the Sefer Torah for ransom, and that they weren’t altogether destroyed in the quake.
    Shame on you. Shame on all of you.

  5. A rabid dog howling at the moon and spitting foaming saliva. Pilpel harif and Moishell disparage Rav Chitrik for rescung sifrei Torak from a shul destroyed to rubble. How low can one go with hatred for fellow Jews that are from the Chabad kehilah?!

    These rabid dogs would rather the sifrei Torah sit in the rubble, exposed to the elements than be tenderly rescued to a safe place.

    They howl that the “rescue” is actually “looting”. Really? Does a looter post pictures of his looting so that everyone knows of it?! Rav Chitrik shared video of his activities – rescuing sifrei Torah. Is that what a looter does??? But since when does a rabid dog understand logic, all it wants to do is howl?!

  6. Jerusalem observer crawled out from under his rock to speak as any typical antisemite would. He learned well from his mentors. Shame on his parents for producing such human slime. Shame on his teacher that failed miserably. And shame on his family members for sharing genetic DNA with a soneh yisroel. Jerusalem observer’s “Judaism” is defined by sinas yisreol and unfounded loshen hara. Nebech!

  7. Rav Mendy Chitrik and colleagues have performed a great mitzvah. May they go from strength to strength! For those with negative comments on Chabad, where do the Satmar, Sephardim, and Litvak stay when they visit another town or nation? The correct answer is Chabad!

  8. PH and JO, beautifully demonstrate how to be Choshed B’Kesheirim. Since they would also loot and steal if they had the opportunity, they assume Rabbi Chitrik does the same.