CHILI, N.Y. -- A more than decade-long dream is finally coming to fruition for the Turkish Society of Rochester.
“We have been collecting donations and trying to build a mosque for the past 15 years and we’re slowly getting there,” Turkish Society of Rochester President-Elect Sebnem Cayak said. “It’s all volunteer and we’re getting there.”
Cayak said the first arrival of Turks in the Rochester region dates back to 1967. With nearly 4,000 Turkish Americans now living in the Rochester region, their culture is becoming more deeply embedded in the area. However, with the growth, comes a need for more religious services.
Slowly but surely, Cayak said the Society’s new mosque is going up. By the end of the fall, they plan to have the outside done and by next year they hope to open the doors.
“Our hopes is that it’s a beautiful structure that is open to the public,” Cayak said. “Everybody who would like to come and pray there, they can. All of the non-Muslims also can come and enjoy it and they can see our traditions, our way of praying, if you will, and we promote friendship.”
Cayak said the mosque will look exactly like those in Turkey, with minarets, domes and stain glass windows. She said all the carpeting and engravings inside will come from Turkey, donated by the Turkish government.
“The reason we invested so much money on this and we would like to invest is because we would like to leave a beautiful structure to Rochester that shows our heritage basically,” Cayak said. “So architecturally we want to make sure it looks really good.”
For all those who are part of the Society, they said they are excited to continue passing on the Turkish traditions to generations and beyond.
“Our kids are going to be brought up, they're going to know a little bit of the culture,” Turkish Society of Rochester member Serap Unlu said. “It’s really important to pass on the culture and our culture beliefs and our religious beliefs to our kids.”
The Turkish Society of Rochester is still collecting donations for the mosque. To help, click here.
Cayak said they current building they use, which is next to the new mosque, will be used for community events and other festivities.