Attempted coup in Turkey
Attempted coup in TurkeyReuters

The attempted coup in Turkey caught Istanbul's Jews by surprise as they were finishing their Friday night meals. Despite the sanctity of the day of rest, it was impossible not to feel the drama unfolding on the city streets.

Though Air Force planes only flew low over populated areas in Ankara, residents of Istanbul quickly understood that security tensions were at their highest, which led to the synagogues of Istanbul being half empty on Shabbat morning.

"On Friday night we went to the synagogue as usual, we didn't see anything different on the streets. There were no police and certainly no military presence, which just goes to show how much of a surprise this all was," an anonymous interviewee told haredi newspaper Hamevaser this morning.

"It was only at 11:30 at night, when we were finishing our Shabbat meal, that neighbors came to tell us about the dramatic coup happening right then, with violent clashes in some places.

"Naturally our first thoughts were about the safety of family and friends. On the one hand we obviously had no way of knowing what was going on with them [due to Shabbat observance restrictions], but we were relatively calm because we knew that at this time on Shabbat everyone is home and nothing would happen to them, God willing."

According to the anonymous source, morning prayers were finished hastily and the congregants returned to their houses quickly. "I decided to go to synagogue in the morning despite what was going on, as I live very close. I walked quickly without looking around too much but I can say that there was a large police and military presence. A large proportion of the congregation, probably mainly those who live further away, didn't come to synagogue. We prayed quickly and returned home. Naturally there was a lot of tension, though we already knew that the coup had failed.

"As is known, this isn't the first attempted coup, though we never had one quite this extreme. We Turkish Jews are never involved in any anti-government activity. The Jewish community's relations with the government are excellent and this is expressed in many ways; we are provided with good security and other things. The stronger and more stable the government, the better it is for the Jews in Turkey," the Jewish community member concluded.