Istanbul's Jewish community celebrated the first night of the eight-day Jewish celebration known as "Hanukkah" or the Jewish Festival of Lights at the city's Esma Sultan Mansion.
The ceremony took place on Saturday evening as guests lit hundreds of candles to mark the day for peace, brotherhood and respect among religions.
The event was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak, Israel's Consul-General in Istanbul Shai Cohen, the President of the Turkish Jewish Community Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, Beşiktaş Mayor Murat Hazinedar, Istanbul Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos, and several other leading religious figures of Istanbul.
Speaking at the event, Deputy PM Kaynak said that Turkey does not consider Jewish community as just a minority, saying that the Jewish citizens are a part of the country as much as any other citizen.
It is the second time that the Jewish holiday is celebrated as a public event in the history of the Republic of Turkey. In 2015, Turkey's Jewish community marked Hanukkah as an openly celebrated holiday for the first time in the history of the Republic. The celebration took place in Istanbul's Ortaköy Square.
Hanukkah is celebrated by Jews worldwide for eight days and nights and falls on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which coincides with late November to late December on the secular calendar. In Hebrew, Hanukkah means "dedication," as the holiday celebrates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jewish victory against the Seleucid monarchy in 165 B.C. Often called the Festival of Lights, the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional food, games and gifts.
Starting from the first day, Jews light candles arranged in a candelabrum known as "Hanukiah." The candelabrum holds nine candles, one for each night, plus a Shamash (servant) at a different height to light the other candles. Each night, another candle is added from right to left.