My greatest love for Jews
by Gunay Arda
Imagine a place in the middle of sea with the sounds of seagulls, waves and laughs. An island with its marvelous houses and flowers reminding movie decoration… a fabulous island. Buyukada (Big Island), the largest of the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara off Istanbul, Turkey.
If children of a place can walk across streets making jokes with older generation and singing songs, that place is not only the best place but also holy place.
If a woman of a city doesn’t smile, those cities are poor and deprived of the bright future. The places where a woman is not happy are like thirsty desert. Women living in Buyukada walk with a smile on their faces and wreathes on their head.
There is no car in Buyukada. People living the island use bikes and phaetons. As you being here, a lay of mold is scrubbed away from one’s eyes
According to legend, the palaces of the Byzantine princes were built here. Each girl living in Buyukada is autogenously a princess.
The residents of the island of peace and prosperity are Greeks and Jews. Self-confidence, assurance and a bit of boaster arousing from the ancient culture and history make islands-dwellers to become introverted. They don’t knit up with local Turks.
And local Jews…
Self-made people are precious. Self-made nations are priceless and their unity is eternal. As a nation Jews have seen the greatest horrors of humanity, had to endure unbearable sufferings and subjected to all kinds of discrimination. May be this value connects Jews and Azerbaijanis. Like Jews, we also suffered anguish, we were exiled from the lands where we were born and grew up and subjected to genocides. Jews and Azerbaijanis share same grieves. Neither good living conditions, nor hopeful future allow to nations to forget the sufferings.
Jews were being selected on the Big Island. One of the common features of Jews with Azerbaijanis is luxurious houses, quality lifestyle and self-respect. We-Azerbaijanis love good and quality life. We are able to stand resistant and jolly among people in spite of all pains and grief. This might be unnecessary comparison. You cannot see a woman with white and dark hair, grimy clothes or fake miserable face expression. The woman I am describing is Armenian.
Jews call Baku as “Heaven of Jews”. Baku has always been homeland for them. Mutual love and understanding connected Jews and Azerbaijanis.
Few years ago, the version of Torah written with parchment was presented in the Jewish Temple of the European Jews in the center of Baku. Jews coming from different parts of the world were shocked seeing the security provision of the event. Jews’ sacrament has been holiday for local people. And the participants of event had strong security provided by Azerbaijan.
Jewish lifestyle on the Big Island is another topic. They called their houses on the island as “50 days”. Only 50 days during a year, they come to Big Island from Turkey and various countries and spend time with their friends there. If there was heaven, its spring would be on the Big Island…
There is no need to look for special entertainment in the little world located in the middle of the sea. One can hear live music from every corner on the island. Sound of violin comes from cafes between blocks. It is not necessary to know language for understanding this music.
On summer nights, it is quite normal to see concerts by Greek, Turkish and Jewish singers in the island. I have been to concert by Greek signer. A singer announced the next song. Previously he apologized that he had to be perform with orchestra regardless of technical difficulties. He started…I will never forget my 7-year-old and 9-year-old kids’ voices. For a moment, I guessed it was one of the Azerbaijani songs and that’s why my kids enjoyed and happily danced. The song was “Hava Nagila”. Some Jewish people encircled us within a few seconds. They were watching us instead of the concert. Following the song, some of them approached us and admitted that kids danced better than them. Instead, they can dance “Laki-laki”. One of them told me that he was sure we came from Baku. He did not know any second nation except Azerbaijanis that could perform this very specific Jewish dance. At that moment, that person, who shed tears of happiness and pride, has become the whole Jewish people. Those tears were a kind of ointment to soothe the pains of two nations.
P.S: Azerbaijanis and Jews are two nations which deserve the best. The whole world and humanity owe materially and morally to these nations. Jews contributed to the world technologies and innovations, as well as Azerbaijanis have a hand in the world literature and cultural heritage. Eat, pray and love…