Government Suppresses Vital Part of Constitution of Turkish Jews

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

The articles of the Constitution of the Jews of Turkey as drafted by the Board of the Jewish Community of Constantinople, the confirmation of which was to have substituted the renounced national minority rights under the Treaty of Lausanne, have been suppressed by the government.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency representative here has obtained a copy of the constitution as approved by the Angora government.

The approved constitution vests the whole authority with the Chief Rabbi, while the original draft stipulated the creation of a special Rabbinical Council composed of the Chief Rabbi and the Rabbis of the various sections. The Rabbinical Council had to elect the Beth Din, appoint and watch over the Schochetim and Chazonim, and in general supervise the religious and material activities of the Jewish Community.

According to the constitution as approved the Chief Rabbi is the Head of the Jewish Community of Constantinople.

Candidates for this post must be subject to a strict investigation on the part of the General Council. The eligibility of the candidates will depend on the result of the investigation. The Chief Rabbi is elected and engaged by contract for a period of five years. The contract may be renewed on condition that both parties inform each other accordingly in writing six months before the expiration of the contract in force, The election and the appointment of the Chief Rabbi will be submitted to the Government for information.

In the event of the illness of the Chief Rabbi, the General Council will consult the Chief Rabbi in order to replace him by one of the Rabbis of Constantinople. For all such time as the post of Chief Rabbi remains vacant and until a successor is definitely appointed, the General Council will have to proceed to the election of a Locum Tenens to act as Chief Rabbi. The post of Chief Rabbi cannot remain vacant for more than three months. Should it, however, not be possible for reasons of “force majeure” or other obstacles to nominate a Chief Rabbi within the specified period, the term of office of the Locum Tenens may be extended. In all cases, the Jews will have to elect and appoint the Chief Rabbi within six months.

The Chief Rabbi has the right to officiate and to preach in all synagogues of the community. He presides over the examination of candidates for the seminary and delivers diplomas to those who have completed their studies.

The Chief Rabbi directs the religious affairs of the Jews and occupies himself with the following: 1. Religious knowledge of the Rabbis. 2. Development of Jewish science, the carrying on of ritual customs and the improvement of religious services in the synagogues. 3. The supervision of the rites concerning sickness and food. 4. The granting of diplomas to the Hazonim, Schochtim and Mohlim. 5. The discussion and decision upon religious controversies which may be submitted to him. No one can exercise a religious function without being authorized by the Chief Rabbinate. The nights of the Beth Din are being transferred to the person of the Chief Rabbi.

According to the new constitution, the Administrative Council is composed of either 7 or 15 members elected at the General Assembly. This election is valid for four years. Every two years one half of the members of the Council are to resign. The first resignations to be decided by lot. The second resignations are to take place at the expiration of the four years’ mandate. All members are eligible for re-election.

The Administrative Councils will meet once in every 15 days. Extraordinary meetings may be held by order of the President. The Council will be composed of a President, a Vice-President, a General Secretary, a Treasurer and a Controller. The accounts and minutes will be written in Turkish.

The duties of the Administrative Councils are: 1. Administer the accounts of the institutions situated in their sections. 2. Fix the budget as well as of their respective sections. 3. Make out a list of voters, sign and control the treasury, collect amounts and pay the staffs of all institutions. 4. Submit to the General Assembly the administrative and financial reports of their sections and the budget projects for the following year. 5. Administer property. 6. Nominate the Rabbis of the sections. The absence — even if justified — of a member for a period of three months will be considered as a resignation.

The Administrative Councils of the sections will form the following commissions: Religious institutions, Benevolence, Scholastic, Funerals, Finance, Property and Bikur Holim. The Commissions will have to respect the formalities of the Administrative Councils in the matter of accounts and minutes.

The religious functions such as Schechita, the baking of matzoh, circumcision, funerals, etc., will be under the control of the Administrative Council.

The revenues of the Sections are the following: 1. Receipts by the Synagogues and institutions. 2. Receipts from property. 3. Funeral fees. 4. Donations by individuals. 5. Receipts from Kosher meat dues, baking of matzoh, Kosher cheese and wine.

The Chief Rabbi of each section, who will be chosen by the Council, will be engaged by contract for a period of four years. Six months before the expiration of the contract, written notice should be given by either side in case of non-renewal.

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