The opening ceremony of the Izmir Jewish Heritage Project run by the Izmir Jewish Community Foundation and the Kentimiz Izmir (Our City Izmir) Association, took place on June 22nd.
The Head of European Union Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, who attended the opening ceremony said, “Izmir has contained and is containing a great diversity both in the past and in our day.”
Within the context of the Izmir Jewish Heritage Project, many activities towards protecting and preserving the Jewish Heritage in Izmir for the next generations will be launched in the timeframe of 36 months.
With the project, the restoration plans of the Hevra and Foresteros synagogues in the Izmir Ancient City Center Havralar (Synagogues) District, built in the 17th century but are now in ruins, will be prepared. As each of them is a part of a four-synagogues-complex sharing the same courtyard, it is unique in the world. Therefore, plans are being made to turn the structure into a national and international cultural heritage, tourism, and dialogue center among cultures.
Home to various cultures and religions, Izmir has been one of the cities that attracted Jewish immigration ever since ancient times. In the light of the current data, the first concrete evidence of Jewish community presence in the city dates back to AC 5th or 6th century. The Sephardic Jews who had been expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492 and 1497, came to the Ottoman lands and settled in and around Izmir over time.