Celebrating 500 Years Of Friendship

February 14, 2012 Updated Feb 14, 2012 at 12:44 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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February 14, 2012 Updated Feb 14, 2012 at 12:44 PM EDT

AMHERST, NY ( WKBW ) A friendship stemming 500 years was the focus recently at a dinner in the Turkish Cultural Center of Buffalo.

Political, academic, and religious leaders from the WNY Turkish and Jewish communities came together to promote peace and mutual understanding.

Recent tension between the Turkish and Israeli governments have seemed to overshadow centuries of friendship.

Tevfik Kosar, a professor at the University at Buffalo commented, "The people are still friends, and they have a good relationship despite these recent tensions."

Alex Lazarus-Klein, a Rabbi at Temple Sinai added, "All we can worry about is what is going on here locally, and send a message to other communities..but primarily to strengthen our bonds here, and to let both communities know whatever happens worldwide doesn't take away from the friendship that we can share as a local community."

The friendship between the two communities dates back to the former Ottoman empire when the Jews were welcomed to stay after being expelled from Spain and Portugal in the 16th century.