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UPDATE - Honorary Turkish Jewish Community head Bensiyon Pinto dead at age 85

UPDATE - Honorary Turkish Jewish Community head Bensiyon Pinto dead at age 85
Pinto 'for years served our Turkey, our community with self-devotion, passion … dedication,' says Turkish Jewish Community


By Handan Kazanci and Burak Bir

ISTANBUL/ANKARA (AA) - Bensiyon Pinto, honorary president of the Turkish Jewish Community, has died at the age of 85, the community announced Thursday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Benjamin Pinto to express his condolences for the passing of his father.

He also sent a message of condolence to Chief Rabbi of Turkiye, Ishak Haleva, as well as Erol Kohen and Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, the heads of the Turkish Jewish Community, the Communication Directorate said in a statement.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of the Honorary President of the Turkish Jewish Community Bensiyon Pinto. Bensiyon Pinto, as a member of our nation who has lived in peace and fraternity for hundreds of years, has contributed immeasurably to our country's unity, solidarity, and social richness with all the duties he has undertaken," Erdogan said in his message.

Communications Director Fahrettin Altun issued a message of condolence for Pinto.

"We are the people of time-honored cultures, who, while living together, could become one and united. Today, I learned with sadness of the passing of a good man, Bensiyon Pinto, the Honorary President of the Turkish Jewish Community," said Altun.

Turkiye's presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin expressed sadness at the death.

“My condolences to his family, loved ones, and the Jewish community,” Kalin wrote on Twitter.

“We are very sorry to announce that we lost Bensiyon Pinto, our beloved former president & honorary president, an exceptional example of faithfulness, who - for years - served our Turkey, our community with self-devotion, passion, faith, and dedication,” the Turkish Chief Rabbinate Foundation said on Twitter.

Pinto was born in Istanbul’s historic Jewish-populated neighborhood of Kuledibi in 1936.

“His involvement in the Turkish Jewish Community started in 1954 as a founding member of Yildirim Spor Kulubu (Yildirim Sports Club). In 1976, he became the head of the Finance Committee of the Turkish Jewish Community and then the Vice President of the Chief Rabbinate of Turkey from 1979 until 1984,” according to a statement on a website in Pinto's memory.

Following a break in participation in the community's administrative body, in 1989 Pinto assumed the role of its president.

“He served in this role for a total of 10 years in various periods from 1989 to 2003,” said the statement. “During this time, he led the restructuring of the official administrative body, and ensured unity and harmony within the community. He kept close and sincere relations with the Turkish government and individuals who shaped and led Turkish politics.”

He was the first and only person awarded the title of “Honorary President of the Turkish Jewish Community.”

Pinto also wrote his memoirs in a 2008 book, My Life as a Turkish Jew, which was later translated into both German and English.

source: News Feed
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