Turkish Jewish community, Jewish groups dedicate school


(JTA) — A new school donated by the Turkish Jewish community and the American Jewish Committee was dedicated in Van, which was ravaged by an earthquake.

The 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck on Oct. 23. More than 600 people were killed and more than 4,000 injured in the temblor, which left more than 6,000 buildings uninhabitable.

The Selahattin Ülkümen primary school, located in the village of Kiratli, will accommodate 400 children in a new, computer-equipped building, according to AJC. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee also contributed to the building.

The school is named after the man who was Turkey’s consul general in Rhodes during World War II and saved 42 Jewish families from the Nazis.

Other Turkish diplomats who saved Jews during the Holocaust will be honored on a plaque to be affixed on a wall inside the school. They are: Necdet Kent, who was Turkey’s consul general in Marseilles, France; Behic Erkin, who was Turkey’s ambassador to Paris; and Namik Kemal Yolga, who was the vice consul at the Turkish Embassy in Paris.

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Turkey refused Israel’s assistance and turned down aid from other countries. But Ankara later accepted international help, including from Israel, in housing the thousands of Turks who were without shelter.

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