Sacred scroll found after quake handed to Türkiye’s Jewish Community


 FEB 21, 2023 – daily sabah


The photo published by the Israeli rescue team ZAKA shows one of the volunteers holding the Book of Esther. (@Ynetnews / Twitter)

The photo published by the Israeli rescue team ZAKA shows one of the volunteers holding the Book of Esther. (@Ynetnews / Twitter)


An illustration of Emperor Hadrian. (Wikipedia / Edited by Betül Tilmaç)

Famous travelers to Türkiye: Hadrian, emperor with wanderlust


The historical Book of Esther scroll, part of the Tanakh, was recently returned to Türkiye’s Chief Rabbinate in Istanbul after being rescued from the Antioch Synagogue, which suffered damage from the Kahramanmaraş earthquakes on Feb. 6.

The Israeli search and rescue team took the scroll to Israel after an elderly local Jew found the scrolls in the wreckage and delivered them to the Israeli team for preservation. Maj. Haim Otmazgin, a volunteer with the Israeli search and rescue organization “ZAKA,” expressed his gratitude for having saved such an important historical document and ensuring the legacy of the Jewish community in Antakya remains intact. According to the news of Israel’s Yediot Ahranot newspaper, Israeli search and rescue teams took the historical Book of Esther scrolls, which were recovered from the rubble of the synagogue in the region, to Israel while they were working in Antakya.

Regarding the issue, the Turkish Jewish Community announced on Twitter: “The Book of Esther parchment has been received from Israel and is kept in Chief Rabbinate. Antakya will return to its home after the renovation of our synagogue.”

Antakya Jewish Community President Şaul Cenudioğlu and his wife, Tuna Cenudioğlu, also lost their lives in the earthquake.

The Book of Esther is an essential text in Jewish scripture and history, telling how a Jewish woman named Esther became the queen of Persia and used her position to save her people from an evil plot to destroy them. The book is celebrated during the Jewish holiday of Purim and is seen as a testament to the power of faith, courage and perseverance. The story of Esther also highlights important themes such as the danger of anti-Semitism, the importance of community and the role of women in shaping history. Beyond its religious significance, the Book of Esther has also inspired countless works of art, literature and film, making it a cultural touchstone that continues to resonate with audiences worldwide.


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