Israeli rabbi takes shelter, prays along Muslims in mosque during Istanbul snowstorm
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Israeli rabbi takes shelter, prays along Muslims in mosque during Istanbul snowstorm

62-year-old taken to mosque near Istanbul Airport after being stranded for hours

News Service AA

Turkiye's largest city was hit by a heavy snowstorm earlier this week, and among the hundreds stranded was an Israeli rabbi who took shelter at a mosque.

Rabbi Israel Elbaum was in Istanbul as part of his job as a controller for kosher food, checking if companies abide by the requirements of Jewish law, similar to Muslim halal standards.

The 62-year-old rabbi set out to catch his plane after finishing his work on Tuesday, but was stranded on the road as heavy snowfall caused traffic disruptions and the city's mega-airport was closed.

Elbaum, who had to wait in the car from 3 p.m. local time (1200 GMT) till 2 a.m. (2300 GMT) the next day, was first taken to a police station and later to the Ali Kuscu Mosque near Istanbul Airport by Turkish troops.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency in Istanbul, Elbaum recalled his overnight experience in the mosque, where he, along with many others, arrived at 4 a.m. (0100 GMT).

“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.”

When he saw other people sleeping, he also took a nap. He later offered the Shacharit morning prayers along with Muslim worshipers.

“We are praying to the same God, so, I think it is not a problem,” he said. “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.”

The story was also shared by Istanbul-based Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States.

“My friend Rabbi Elbaum was also at the E-5 traffic pile-up in #Istanbul - he took it in good spirits,” he tweeted. “Hundreds of travelers are stranded all over the country - due to the heavy snow storm. I keep on getting calls to supply Kosher food from Antalya and Ankara to Trabzon,” he added, sharing a video of Elbaum on the back seat of the car he was traveling in.

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