The head of the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate, Mehmet Gormez, Orthodox Christian Patriarch Bartholomew I and Hakham Bashi (Chief Rabbi) Ishak Haleva on Saturday issued a joint declaration condemning the coup.
“From wherever and whomever it comes, terror and violence cannot be displayed as a legitimate thing and it cannot be supported,” their statement said, adding that “those who have faith within them cannot approve any killing, as murdering a human being is no different than murdering the whole humanity” . . .
Rabbi Haleva was the deputy to Rabbi David Asseo for seven years and became the new Hakham Bashi after his death in 2002. As a 7-year-old, he came with his father to Istanbul from Edirne, near Turkey’s western border with Bulgaria and Greece, to study in a Jewish school. As a teenager he studied in a yeshiva in Israel to become a rabbi. According to his acquaintances, Haleva was a prankster in his youth, and he still maintains a humorous, informal manner, peppering his words with folksy Hebrew and Turkish sayings.
More on the Hakham Bashi (Chief Rabbi of Turkey):
Hakham Bashi (Ottoman Turkish: حاخامباشی, Turkish: Hahambaşı, IPA: [hɑˈhɑm bɑˈʃɯ]) is the Turkish name for the Chief Rabbi of the nation’s Jewish community. In the time of the Ottoman Empire it was also used for the chief rabbi of a particular region of the empire, such as Syria or Iraq, though the Hakham Bashi of Constantinople was considered overall head of the Jews of the Empire . . .
Because of the size and nature of the Ottoman state, containing a far greater part of the diaspora then any other, the position of Hakham Bashi has been compared to that of the Jewish Exilarch.
In the Ottoman Empire, and as such, the Hakham Bashi was the closest thing to an overall Exilarchal authority among Jewry everywhere in the Middle East in early modern times. They held broad powers to legislate, judge and enforce the laws among the Jews in the Ottoman Empire and often sat on the Sultan’s divan.