Two weeks ago, I co-chaired an event with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee – more commonly referred to as JDC – that took a deep dive into the experiences of the Turkish Jewish community. The event, titled “Inside Jewish Turkey: Where East Meets West,” featured a panel of young Jews who grew up or spent considerable time in Turkey, and was held at Agora Restaurant in Dupont – guaranteeing delicious Turkish food and drink.
The panelists included Sedat, who grew up in Istanbul and reflected on the good relations he experienced with his Muslim peers. He and the two other panelists, Can and Jamie, emphasized to the audience of 150 DC-ers that the biggest challenge to the Jewish community in Turkey is not anti-Jewish or Israel sentiment – rather it is the dwindling size of the community due to young people leaving for Israel or the U.S. and intermarriage.
The panel was moderated by Michelle Gorman and organized by the JDC, the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian organization. JDC works in 70 countries around the world to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, meet the needs of Israel’s must vulnerable citizens, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and manmade disasters.
I was lucky enough to see firsthand JDC’s work when I traveled to Istanbul as part of a young professionals trip last March. JDC has young professionals trips all over the world and is currently accepting applications for Turkey 2012. For more information on this trip and others, visit: http://www.jdcinservice.org/our-trips-young-adults
Check out more pictures from the event at JDC’s Next Gen Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/jdcnextgeneration