Pink angels: cultural reproduction through the therapies provided by a Jewish Women's organization in Or-Ahayim hospital in Istanbul

Agiş, Fazıla Derya
Some Turkish Jewish women have been serving the elderly staying in the geriatric unit of the Jewish Or-Ahayim Hospital in Istanbul. Their group is recognized as ‘the Pink Angels.’ The volunteer women at the Jewish hospital founded a group in 1974, and Nuket Antebi named this group ‘the Pink Angels.’ Today this group of women is divided into three subgroups: (1) those who offer chat and art therapies, after having been trained, (2) those who distribute foods and beverages, deal with donations, are involved in the preparation process of jam jars, and offer memorial services, and (3) those who assume both duties. The Pink Angels who serve as therapists contribute to the attainment of world peace locally in Istanbul by chatting and reading various texts belonging to various world cultures in the chat therapies and making the patients create works of art and sing songs related to different cultural occasions in the art therapies by promoting global moral values. Sometimes they promote the moral values of other religious and cultural groups by celebrating different feasts and narrating stories belonging to these diverse groups by underscoring the concept unity in diversity and imposing upon the patients that they constitute a family in the hospital. Moreover, not only the foods and beverages the Pink Angels distribute, but also the jam jars and gift baskets they prepare carry Turkish Jewish symbols. This thesis based on fieldwork tests the hypotheses that the Pink Angels employ positive symbols in the therapies and activities they conduct, avoid talking about negative issues, such as sadness and death, not only the therapies, but also all the other activities that the Pink Angels conduct evoke happiness and joy in the patients as long as the Turkish Jewish culture is reproduced, since the patients feel as if they were at home, and several intercultural peace building techniques are employed in the therapies together with symbols and metaphorical imagery emphasizing the importance of peace between different religious and ethnic groups by mentioning the commonalities between them, and the rules obeyed by the Pink Angels provide the patients with comfort, since they conceive that they are in a serious and secure place. Furthermore, the foods cooked everyday in the hospital and the music the patients listen to during the therapies reflect the transcultural identities of the Turkish Jews whose ancestors had lived in different countries and interacted with various cultural groups. Symbolic interactionism is employed in analyzing all of these.
Citation Formats
F. D. Agiş, “Pink angels: cultural reproduction through the therapies provided by a Jewish Women’s organization in Or-Ahayim hospital in Istanbul,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2012.