Paul Dumond, a French researcher,
began his 227-page annual report in 1893 with this sentence:
"Among the most civilized and enlightened countries of the world, in few do Jews enjoy a more complete equality than they do in Turkey."
About 400 years before this report was published, Rabbi izak Sarfati of Edirne sent the following letter to his religious brethren in Germany:
"Brothers and teachers, friends and acquaintances! I, Izak Sarfati, declare that Turkey is a country where nothing is lacking and where everything will be good for you... If you listen to me, the road to Turkey is the road of life. Do not dally, but come to this place of comfort. Here everyone lives happily and peacefully in the shade of his own vine and fig tree..."
Today, five hundred years after that
letter was written, who can claim that the tolerance shown to all religions
in Turkey is any less? Throughout the years that I have served as Chief
Rabbi in the Turkish Republic, I can state without hesitation that all
religions have been practiced in our country freely and unhindered.
Chief Rabbi of Turkey
September 3, 1997
History has never been so generous
to any land as it has to the lands on which we are living. People who lived
here long before history began developed material and spiritual values
that they offered to humanity. Of these, one of the most important is Christianity.
These lands are where many Christian religious leaders, prime among them St. Andrew, the founder of our Patriarchate, have lived. Here also the Ecumenical Councils took place and Christianity was formally accepted by an Empire - an important turning point in the history of Christianity.
Our Patriarchate, the founder and pillar of our faith in Jesus Christ throughout this period, is completing its 1600 years of existence as we near the third millennium. One of the difficulties we face with this prestigious responsibility is the fact that the knowledge of history has been distorted and pushed aside because of certain anxieties. Prejudices originating from ignorance have impeded the rightful feelings of pride in the rich history of Christianity in Anatolia for those living in these lands.
A very important step towards peaceful coexistence will be realised when it is understood that differences are a richness. Therefore we congratulate your success, and pray God that this work, Turkey's Religious Sites, will forward our eternal aims of peace and tolerance.
Filippos, Metropolitan of Tyana The acting Grand Chancellor
September 18, 1997