Jewish Identity in the Turkic World, a symposium co-organized by TACCI was held on 23rd of November, at the Center for Jewish History in New York City.
The symposium was opened by introduction speech by Dr. Javid Huseynov from Azerbaijani – American Council (AAC). He underlined that this event was intended to be about the culture between peoples – nothing about the politics.
The President of Azerbaijan Society of America (ASA), Tomris Azeri stressed that the timing of this unique event was very important. She also mentioned the long history of the Jewish people in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan which goes back to more than 2500 years ago.
David Saltzman from Turkish Coalition of America talked about his friendship with Mr. Gunay Evinch and his personal history about Turkey as a Jewish person. “Wherever there are or have been Turks, there are or have been Jews.” he said. Sometimes isolated, but always together.
After Mr. Saltzman, it was time for Mrs. Yildiz Yuksek Blackstone, President of the Luca Luca fashion brand, who is also a Turkish Jewish from Izmir. Mrs . Blackstone shared her memories from her childhood and her peaceful life where she had the chance to experience the Sephardic Jewish traditions
Sevil Ozisik-TACCI President, Erhan Atay,TABA Board Member, Basar Sen, Deputy Consul General, Fidan Ozyurt,Turk of America Magazin Ali Cinar, ATAA Northeast VP
Then it was Mr. Alan Cordova’s turn. He made a small presentation about the Sephardic Jewish History in Rhodes and Marmara Region. Mr. Cordova’s family also comes from Turkey. After Mr. Cordova, Mr. Gunay Evinch, the President of the Assembly of the Turkish American Associations (ATAA) made a speech about the current facts and figures of the Turkish economy and the strategical importance and also emphasized that people should watch Turkey closer than ever due to its increasing role in the region.
In the other sessions, speakers like Sergei Weinstein, Rashbil Shamayev, Farkhod Muradov and Rafael Nektalov gave speeches about the Mountain Jews, the situation of Islam and Judaism in Modern Russia and the Jews in Uzbekhistan.
In the final part, Mr. Barry Habib, a Turkish Jew who is a successful Broadway Musical Producer made a speech and finally, Ms. Victoria Barrett kicked off the film screening session with the touching documentary called “Desperate Hours”.
All the speeches ended with Q & A sessions and the audience included more than 150 people, some of whom traveled from different countries to attend this event.
At the end of the events, there was a reception, attended by the Consul General of Turkey in New York, Mr. Mehmet Ali Samsar and many distinguished guests. The Kavkaz Jewish Youth Center performed traditional dances and internationally reknowned Azerbaijani-born Jewish artist Stass Shpanin also had an exhibition throughout the event.
The event was attended by President of TACCI, Ms. Sevil Ozisik and several TACCI members.