Stranded Israeli rabbi prays among Muslims at Istanbul mosque

Stranded Israeli rabbi prays among Muslims at Istanbul mosque
2 min read
28 January, 2022
An Israeli rabbi who was stranded in a car in Istanbul for hours by a snowstorm has spoken of his warm reception by worshippers at a mosque in the Turkish metropolis.
Rabbi Israel Elbaum said he was warmly welcomed at the Ali Kucsu mosque [Anadolu/Getty]

An Israeli rabbi who was trapped in Istanbul during a severe snowstorm took shelter in a mosque where he was warmly welcomed by Muslim worshippers, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

Rabbi Israel Elbaum was visiting Turkey's largest city for his work certifying that food was being prepared according to kosher standards and was due to leave on Tuesday.

However after he set out for Istanbul Airport, the car he was travelling in was stranded by heavy snow on the road and the gigantic airport was closed.

Elbaum ended up waiting in the car for eleven hours, from 3pm local time until 2am the next day, according to Anadolu.

He was rescued by Turkish troops and taken to the Ali Kuscu Mosque near the airport.

Elbaum told Anadolu that he had a friendly reception in the mosque.

"It was so cold ... I had to take out my shoes as other people do," he said.

"The carpet was warm ... people gazed a bit because I look different, but did not say anything and were smiling. It was very nice."

The rabbi was able to get some much needed rest in the mosque, finding that other people were also sleeping there.

In the morning he offered Shacharit morning prayers while Muslim worshippers offered their own prayers.

"We are praying to the same God, so, I think it is not a problem,” Elbaum told Anadolu. “We are praying for the same God, we are children of the God. And (it is) nice ... being together, praying together, dancing and smiling together.”

Elbaum's story was shared on social media by Mendy Chitrik, the chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States.