Pres. Herzog at Neve Shalom synagogue
Pres. Herzog at Neve Shalom synagogue Yoni Kempinski

President Isaac Herzog visited the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul Thursday morning and met with representatives of the Jewish community in Turkey.

Synagogue members, who had experienced wo murderous terrorist attacks in the past, greeted the President of the State of Israel with a trumpet blast and the song "We brought peace to you."

The rabbi of the synagogue, Rabbi Yitzchak Haliva said: "His visit is a symbol of strengthening ties for peace. These two countries - Turkey and Israel - have contributed much to humanity for peace."

Addressing the Jewish community of Istanbul at the synagogue, Herzog recited the 'shehechiyanu' blessing and said: "My brothers and sisters from the Jewish community, Michal my wife and I are happy to meet you, and to recite the blessing as it is written of one who has not seen his friend for a long time: 'Blessed are you, O Lord our G-d, the King of the world, that we have lived and been protected and come to this time.'"

"On this special occasion, I ask, together with you, to pray for the peace of our brothers and sisters from the Jewish community in Ukraine, and to pray that the Holy One will protect and save them from all trouble and distress.

Herzog said that "both my father and my grandfather mentioned in their historical visits here the way in which Turkey opened its gates and its heart, to the boys and girls the Jewish people who found rest here for their feet. The exiles from Spain and the veteran Turkish Jews integrated into Turkish society, and played a major role in writing the history of the Jewish people. A long line of rabbis, poets, sages, merchants, entrepreneurs, and leaders, are just part of the historical past of the Jewish people here in this country."

"My brothers and sisters, all of Israel is bound by a bond of mutual responsibility, of a partnership of destiny; And you, members of the Jewish community in Turkey, are an example and role model for this. You are a symbol of mutual guarantee, of tradition, of community, that faces all the challenges. I know that the Jewish community here in Turkey and also this synagogue - "Neve Shalom", have experienced severe terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, around the world - Jewish schools, synagogues, supermarkets and Jewish businesses - were and still are targeted by haters. I strengthen your hands, and welcome the commitment of the authorities to the safety and freedom of the Jews of Turkey," he said,

התקווה ברחבת ארמון הנשיאות בטורקיה באדיבות חדשות כאן

Speaking to reporters at the end of his visit to Turkey at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Herzog said: "My visit to Turkey hosted by President Erdogan was important, with important symbolic and emotional charges for the history of the countries and peoples. This common history has known ups and downs and in recent years has suffered from challenges and difficult moments."

He added, "I entered this process soberly in full coordination with all government ministries and other parties. This process will be examined over several months including in the case of the release of the Oknin couple."

On the meeting with Erdogan, he said: "The host was open to a real dialogue on many and varied issues and we got down to the details on issues that are important to both sides. Many of the issues which are of operational significance will be transferred to the Israeli government" for continued discussions.

Herzog added, "We also talked about establishing a mechanism to prevent crises that could happen. The whole process is free of illusions, but reflects our common interests."

"Turkey has always been recognized as an important country, it is the first Muslim country to recognize Israel. I told Erdogan that Ben-Gurion and Ben-Zvi were university graduates in Istanbul. There are a lot of non-political issues in the field such as trade and other areas. "I hope that an infrastructure has been laid for the development of the [Israel-Turkey] relationship," the president noted.

He talked about the worldview that guides him in connection with the Turks. "I think of a ten-year-old boy who sees a picture of the President of Israel on a website with a Muslim leader or a leader with a keffiyeh - and it sends a message of hope - and an alternative to anyone who thinks confrontation and violence will bring results. I hope I contribute in this way. We do not forget the past, obviously, but we think about the future."

An official in the entourage of President Isaac Herzog to Turkey said Thursday morning that the very existence of the President's summit with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is significant.

The official said that the success of the summit "will be examined in deeds and now the it's is in the government's court."

According to the source, the entire visit was coordinated Prime Minister Naftalli Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. "There were a lot of discussions, including in the National Security Council, whether to go for the move - and the opinion that said 'let's give this move a chance' won out."