Turkish-born Jewish woman returns home after decades

Rasel Kazes takes off from Argentina's capital to visit Turkey after 69 years

After over half a century away from home, Rasel Kazes on Thursday took off from Argentina to visit Turkey.

“Going to Turkey is like a dream for me. A dream that took years to come true,” Kazes told Anadolu Agency prior to her flight from Buenos Aires, which was arranged by the Turkish Embassy in the city and Turkish Airlines.

“I remember many things even though I haven't been there since a very long time,” she said, expressing happiness for going to the lands she was born and raised in, after 69 years of longing.

Mazes, 85, whose origin dates back to Sephardic Jews who migrated from Spain to Ottoman lands, left Turkey when she was 16 and migrated to Argentina with her husband.

After their migration, she did not get an Argentinian identity card of her own will. Her biggest wish was to visit Turkey with her Turkish passport.

The expulsion of the Jews from Spain was ordered in 1492 by Catholic monarchs through the Edict of Granada (the Alhambra Decree) to drive Jews out of their territories.

Many Jews settled in Istanbul's Galata neighborhood, Turkey's Aegean city of Izmir and present-day northern Israeli city of Safed.

Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II accepted Jews in present-day Turkey lending them help in their difficult circumstances.

“We will stay in Istanbul, Izmir, Gelibolu. I want to go to places where I feel myself like a Turk,” Kazes said, adding that she wanted to see the school she had studied in and the place she got married in Gelibolu.

Stating that her two grandchildren are also coming to Turkey to visit her, she added that she wants to eat iconic Turkish food, such as doner and simit.

She also thanked Sefik Vural Altay, Turkish ambassador in Buenos Aires, and other embassy staff who helped her during the process.


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