I am anything but Turkish in my soul.

Born and brought up in Istanbul, Shlomi arrived in the UK via Israel in 2003. He works in banking in the City. In a country hosting no more than 20,000 of them, a Turkish Jew is rare commodity. ‘There aren’t that many of us. I’d like to think that I am a Turkish Jew rather than a Jew or Turkish. I’m Turkish because I was brought up there. If there are any ways of doing things, I know the Turkish way of doing them. Having said that, I am Jewish.’

Shlomi’s ambivalent relationship with his home country is evident throughout his interview. He loves Turkey: ‘I love the country. I love the food, I love the cuisine, I love the Bosporus, I love the sea – I’m a sea person – and although the United Kingdom is an island, we don’t see any of the sea in London. So that is a big miss for me.’ He is at odds with Turkish politics, however, and sees no prospect of returning to Turkey anytime soon, neither is he keen that his children have Turkish passports. As he reasons:

‘The Turkish passport, unlike any other European passport looks like a notebook, (because) you need a visa for everywhere you want to go.’

Shlomi’s Jewish identity is very important to him although, coming from Turkey and filtered by nearly 20 years in London, he struggles to maintain strict observance of Judaic tradition. However, he is keen to pass on the traditions and the observances to his own children. ‘If you ask me, do I keep kosher? No. Do I feel that I need to let my kids know what kosher is and follow it to a broad extent? Yes. Do I feel the pressure to keep the Yom Kippur or Passover? Not really. But do I keep it? Yes. Why? Because I want to show it to my kids.’ And as Shlomi concludes: ‘I would love my kids to have the sense of being European Jewish, but I wouldn’t like them to be blind-folded, to be following rules that they don’t understand, and they don’t believe in.’

This project is part of the initiative ‘Stand Together and Go Virtual’, supported by the German Embassy London and the Goethe-Institut London.