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The Jewish Community of Turkey

Turkey

Türkiye Cumhuriyeti - Republic of Turkey

A country in southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe. 

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 15,000 out of 82,000,000 (0.01%).  Main Jewish organization:

Jewish Community of Turkey
Website: www.turkyahudileri.com

 

HISTORY

The Jews of Turkey

1923 | Father of the Turkish Nation

WW1 heralded the end of the great empires era – the Czarist Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the enormous Ottoman Turkish Empire, which at various times stretched from Southeastern Europe to North Africa.
The collapse of the Turkish giant and the disintegration of the empire were fertile ground for mayhem and friction between many different ethnic groups, mostly Turks and Greeks.
On July 24th, 1923, in the picturesque Swiss city of Lausanne representatives of the Turks, the British, the French, the Italians and the Greeks met to put the Asia Minor puzzle back together again following the end of the Ottoman Empire.
The Treaty of Lausanne set the borders of modern Turkey, which turned from an Empire with a religious and traditional character to a democratic, secular, and national, even nationalistic state.
Under the new ruler, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey underwent an aggressive process of modernization and secularization. The institution of the caliphate, the title of Pasha, the madrassas (religious schools) and Sharia, or Islamic law, were all abolished and relegated to the past. Ataturk (which means “Father of the Turks” in Turkish) believed in ethnic homogeneity, and therefore the Lausanne treaty included mass population exchanges, in which over two million Greeks and Turks were uprooted from their homes.
Under the treaty, the Turkish regime was required to allow minorities the right to maintain their culture. Ataturk was not impressed by this obligation. He banned the display of religious symbols in public and among other steps, restricted the teaching of Hebrew at schools. Despite this, many of the Jews of Turkey identified with the patriotic wave washing over the country and gave up the characteristics that defined them as a minority.

1926 | Princes of High Tide and Low

The US Consul in Istanbul, Bey Randall, aptly described the state of the Jews in the early years of Ataturk's rule: “During the Ottoman period”, he wrote, “while Jews managed to obtain basic political rights, they were generally treated as one of the lowest groups in the empire. Upon the establishment of modern Turkey Jews won a place in all walks of Turkish life: as stock brokers, bankers, practitioners of free professions, clerks and officials, and even won key positions in the trade unions.” However, historians mark 1926 as the end of the high tide for Turkish Jews and the beginning in the low, reaching a nadir during WW2.
Like any country during a war, let alone a world war, even neutral Turkey needed cash. To that end, the Turkish authorities levied a differential tax upon its populace – a tax not set by a citizen's income, but by their ethnicity. Muslims paid less. Others – and most of all the Jews – paid more. Much more.
The tax laid very heavily on the Jews and expedited their departure from the country, and in addition, the Turkish press at the time was pro-Nazi and claimed that the Jews have “foreign blood” and are “Turkish in name only”. Expressions of anti-Semitism soon followed. And yet, during WW2 Turkey gave shelter to a small number of Jewish refugees.
Towards the end of the war, as it became clear that the Axis Powers were facing defeat, the discriminatory tax was repealed and the remaining debts incurred under it were expunged.

1948 | We Hereby Declare!

In 1948 David Ben-Gurion declared the foundation of the State of Israel and the Turkish government declared another expansion of religious freedoms. Some 35,000 Jews made aliyah from Turkey that year; the children of those who stayed were allowed to study basic Hebrew at one of the five Jewish schools in Istanbul. However teaching of general studies was permitted only in Turkish.
In those years the Jewish cultural circle in Turkey expanded, including among other manifestations three Jewish periodicals. Two of them - “Shalom” and “La Vera Luz” were printed in Ladino, and the third, “HaMenorah”, was published by the Bnei Brith organization and was distributed in three languages: Hebrew, French and Ladino. These were also the years that saw the work of Jewish poet Joseph Habib Gerez, whose writing extolled the greatness of Istanbul, and Avraham Galanti – a columnist, historian and prolific researcher, who wrote many books about the Jews of Turkey.
Turkish Jews also left a mark on the country's plastic arts. In the first half of the 20th century Ataturk invited painting teacher Leopold Levy to head the Istanbul Art Institute. Levy, who believed in the heritage of European impressionism and expressionism, breathed life into the moribund art world of Istanbul, and the greatest Turkish painter owe him a great debt for doing so.
The economic situation of the Jews also improved markedly compared to that during WW2. Many of them engaged in commerce and art, served as government officials and practiced various free professions. In the 1950s and 1960s the Jews of Turkey lived with their neighbors in peace, save for a few anti-Semitic outbursts following Israel's victory over the Arab states in the Six Day War of 1967.

1970 | Wanted: A Language Reviver

In the early 1970s there were 30-35,000 Jews living in Turkey, mostly in Istanbul. 95% of them were descendants of the Spanish Expulsion, and the rest scions of Jews who immigrated from Poland and Austria in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Austrian-descended Jews, who were considered the elite of the community, founded the great synagogue of Istanbul among others, which was known as the “Austrian Synagogue”. In 1951 the Sephardi community founded another famous Istanbul synagogue, Neve Shalom, which in 1986 was the scene of a horrific attack, when two terrorists entered it in the guise of reporters and murdered 22 worshipers.
For hundreds of years, the heart and soul of the Sephardi community in Turkey was the Ladino language, but nothing lasts forever. While in 1927 84% of Jews in Turkey declared Ladino to be their mother tongue, in a 1955 survey that figure dropped to 64%, and in 2013 Jewish-Turkish author Mario Levy told the daily “Israel Hayom” that his twin daughters, then 25 years old, do not know a word of Ladino. As of 2015, Ladino culture in Turkey is dying out.

2015 | Tense Relations

In 2014 Turkey was home to approximately 17,000 Jews, most in Istanbul and about 2,000 people in Izmir and other cities. Many of the Jews of Turkey maintain the flames of Jewish tradition to this day. Istanbul has 16 synagogues and a well-kept cemetery, tightly guarded from hostile actions.
Due to the harsh relations between Israel and Turkey in the past ten years, especially since the “Mavi Marmara” affair in 2010 and the recalling of the Turkish Ambassador from Israel, anti-Semitism has been on the rise in the country. Jews report a growing fear of walking the streets in clothing indicative of their Jewish origins, and many are leaving the country, mostly to the United States and Europe.

Place Type:
Country
ID Number:
153689
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:
Community leader

His family originated in Turkey but moved to Egypt. His father was a political officer with the Sudanese government in Khartoum where Nessim was born. He graduated from college in that city. During World War 2 he saw active service in the British army and reached the rank of captain. After the war he joined the family business in the Sudan and in 1957 moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where he developed a worldwide business corporation in import-export, investment and real estate. Prominent in Jewish affairs, he headed the community in Khartoum and in 1966 became head of the united Ashkenazi and Sephardi community in Geneva. Gaon has been especially active in Sephardi institutions and has been president of the World Sephardi Federation since 1971. He has also been vice-president of the World Jewish Congress and chairman of the board of governors of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.
Hazan, Victoria (1896-1995), singer and oud player, born into a family of cantors as Victoria Ninio in Salihli, north-east of Izmir, Turkey (then in the Ottoman Empire).

She moved to the United States after the end of the First World War where she married. Initially she sang in her synagogue for community audiences, but later she also was persuaded to make recordings of different kinds of Sefardi music which became very popular with Jewish communities in America. Hazan sang and recorded songs in Turkish, Greek, Ladino, Armenian, French, and Hebrew.
Javid Bey, Mehmed (1875–1926), Ottoman economist and statesman, born in Salonica, Greece (then part of the Ottoman Empire) to a family of Doenmeh, a group of crypto-Jews in the Ottoman Empire who openly affiliated with Islam and secretly practiced a form of Judaism called Sabbateanism. Javid worked for the Agriculture Bank and Education Ministry after graduating from the Imperial Civil Servants School in Istanbul in 1896. Six years later he returning to Salonica to head a private school there. He became active in the Young Turk movement. After the 1908 Revolution, he was elected to the Ottoman parliament, where he served from 1908 to 1918. An accomplished orator and able economist, he served as finance minister in five cabinets, where he was responsible for bringing order to the finances of the empire. Thanks to his efforts vital foreign loans were obtained and investor confidence in the Ottoman government was restored.

The combination of his personality, religious and national origins, and politics made him the target of numerous accusations of corruption, espionage, even murder. In 1914 he resigned his position in protest against the secret Ottoman-German alliance, although he remained a financial adviser to the government. He was reappointed his ministerial post in 1917. After the war he went into hiding in Istanbul and then fled to Switzerland after his offer to join the Nationalist Forces in Anatolia was rejected. He lived in Switzerland for several years and returned to Istanbul in 1922. He was a member of the Ottoman delegation at Lausanne in 1921, but fell out with Ismet Inönü. After Turkey's independence, he briefly flirted with politics but did not pursue the idea. In 1926 he was arrested after an attempt on Mustafa Kemal's life; he was convicted of sedition and executed, although no serious evidence was brought. He wrote several textbooks on economics and statistics. His memoirs were published in 1946.
Frankist

The Wolowski family joined the Frankists in 1755-56 and converted to Catholicism. Elisha is the first known member of this family and for many years held the position of maggid in Rohatyn. He was among the leading followers of Shabbetai Tsevi in south-eastern Poland. Regarding Jacob Frank as the successor of Shabbetai Tsevi he and his sons became adherents of the Frankist sect. He initiated the disputation between the Frankists and the Rabbinates in Kamenets Podolski, participating as an advocate of Frankism. When Bishop Dembowski, the patron of the Frankists, died, Elisha had to flee across the border to Turkey along with his followers. He died there during an outbreak against members of the sect.
MAGNESI, MAGNEZI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

The surname Magnesi is associated with Magnesia (now Manissa), the chief town of the Turkish province bearing the same name, north east of Izmir. A Jewish community existed in Manissa since the 1st century CE. In some cases Magnesi is derived from Meghnagi, which means "coquettish" in Arabic. Originally the name was a personal nickname. Other related family names include Megnatzi, Magnazi, Magnagi, Magenji, Magnaji.
NAHOUM, NAHUM

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic, derived from a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin.

Nahoum/Nahum is a biblical male personal name. The meaning of the Hebrew name Nahum/Nachum is "consoler/comforter" and therefore closely associated with Nehemiah, which means "God the consoler/comforter" or "God will console/comfort". The biblical Nachum was a 7th century BCE prophet of Judah. The biblical Nechemia was a 5th century BCE governor of Judah. Other related family names: Nahmias is recorded as a Jewish family name in 1112 in Toledo, Spain. Nochem and Nachmann are documented in 1784 in Alsace. Ben Nahmias is mentioned in 1928. In the mid 20th century a French Nehamia family changed its name to Namiere. Variants of Nahum, many of which coincide with those of Nahmias, range from Nochem, Nacher and Nahm to Nochim, Nache and Naum. Forms closely linked to Nahmias include Nihamiach, Namiech, Hamiach, Amieche and Amiache. In the 19th century, Nahum is recorded as a Jewish family name in a 'ketubbah' from Tunis dated August 2, 1868, of Rachel, daughter of Nessim Nahum, and her husband Joseph, son of Jacob Montefiore.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Nahoum include the Turkish-born chief rabbi of Istanbul and Cairo Haim Nahoum (1872-1960) and the 19th/20th century Turkish attorney Marco Nahoum.
CARASSO

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

Carasso and its variant Caraco can be associated with Carasso, a small town east of Locarno, Switzerland, and Karasu, a town east of Istanbul, Turkey.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Carasso include the 19th century Salonika-born merchant and traveller, David Carasso, and the Greek-born Turkish lawyer and politician, Immanuel (Emanuel) Carasso (1863-1943).

NASSI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name derives from Jewish communal functionaries, or titles.

Na(s)si is a Hebrew term designating a tribal chief, prince or king. In modern Hebrew it means "president". Similar terms from which Jewish family names were derived include the Hebrew Zaken/Zaquen ("elder"), and Rosh ("head"). Equivalents in other languages comprise the Arabic Sheikh/Cheikh, the Berber Amg(h)ar, and the German Haupt and Hauptmann. Some families called Cheikh could have links with places called Cheikh/Sheikh in the Arabic speaking countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Judah Ha-Nasi, also spelled Hanasi, who lived in the 3rd century CE, was one of the editors of the Mishnah. Ha-Nagid and Ibn Nagdela are recorded in 11th century Spain, Ha-Zaquen is found in 11th century France. Ben Rosh, Verrox, Abenros, El Ros, Avenrros, Avenrresch, Aben Ros and Ben Alshekh are recorded as Jewish family names in 13th century Spain; Avenros is documented in the 14th century, Alshekh and Aros in the 15th century, Nasi, Benzaken, Harrosh and Benharouch in the 16th century, Ben Zaquen and Ben Harrosh in the 17th century, and Ben Eshek, Carrus, Harrous and Benarroch in the 18th century.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Nasi include the Portuguese-born stateswoman and patroness, Gracia Nasi (circa 1510-1569), and the Turkish statesman, Joseph Nasi (1525-1579).

Distinguished 20th century bearers of the Jewish family name Nassi include Marko Nassi (1901-1979), a Turkish businessman and community leader, he served as a representative of the Jewish community of Turkey at the World Jewish Congress. 

TURKO

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

The Jewish surname Turko can have connections with Turka, a formerly Polish town near Lvov in western Ukraine. Like the German Tuerk, Tuerkel and Tuerkischer, it can also refer to people who had lived under Turkish rule.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Turko include the 20th century Argentinian researcher Jose Turko.
ATTURKI, ETURQUI, ETURKI, EL TURQUI, TURQUI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

The surname Turqui means "Turkish" in Arabic.

BAKAL, BAKKAL, BACAL

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name.

This family name derives from an occupation, profession or trade (also connected with raw material, finished product or implements associated with that trade). Names indicating occupation, profession or trade are widespread among Jews. The extensive range of Jewish names deriving from occupations illustrates the variety of their activities in all fields.

This family name is derived from bakkal, the Turkish term for "grocer".  The equivalent term in Arabic is biqal (بقال). This family name is found among the Jews of Iraq.  

Bakal is documented as a Jewish family name with Alon Bakal (1990-2016) of Karmiel, Israel, was one of two victims who were shot when an Israeli-Arab gunman opened fire on customers in the Simta Pub on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv.

Duration:
00:00:49

Elu Eser Makot ("These are Ten Plagues" - in Hebrew)

Original recording from Yehezkel Braun Choral Works: Israel Kibbutz Choir. Produced by Beit Hatfutsot in 1996.

Passover Piyyut which tells the story of the ten plagues of Egypt. The melody heard here comes from Constantinople tradition and was arranged for choir by Yehezkel Braun as part of his piece "Fifteen Passover Songs".

Duration:
00:01:36

Quen Es Este Paxarico ("Who is the Bird That Appeared?" - in Ladino)

Original recording from Ravel: Melodies Hebariques & Hemsi: Coplas Sefardies. Produced by Beit HaTfutsot in 1988.

Alberto Hemsi, a 20th century composer born in Turkey, devoted his life in the Near East to collecting and notating the songs of the Judeo-Spanish community. His collection of five volumes contains 230 of these songs and poems and is entitled "El Cancionero Sefardi". Sixty of these were arranged by Hemsi for voice and piano, and published as ten volumes of "Coplas Sefardies". Opus 45 is the ninth volume out of the ten. It was published in 1972, though the songs were originally noted by Hemsi in Istanbul in 1933.

In this song - a girl's beloved has married another and she bewails the love that has been snatched away.

Text by Dr. Avner Bahat, originally published by Beit Hatfutsot in Ravel: Melodies Hebariques & Hemsi: Coplas Sefardies CD booklet.

Duration:
00:03:08

Mi Alma Triste ("My Soul is Sad" - in Ladino)

Original recording from Ravel: Melodies Hebariques & Hemsi: Coplas Sefardies. Produced by Beit HaTfutsot in 1988.

Alberto Hemsi, a 20th century composer born in Turkey, devoted his life in the Near East to collecting and notating the songs of the Judeo-Spanish community. His collection of five volumes contains 230 of these songs and poems and is entitled "El Cancionero Sefardi". Sixty of these were arranged by Hemsi for voice and piano, and published as ten volumes of "Coplas Sefardies". Opus 45 is the ninth volume out of the ten. It was published in 1972, though the songs were originally noted by Hemsi in Istanbul in 1933.

This song is a lament of a young man who has lost the woman he loves to another.

Text by Dr. Avner Bahat, originally published by Beit Hatfutsot in Ravel: Melodies Hebariques & Hemsi: Coplas Sefardies CD booklet.

Duration:
00:01:55

Bueno Asi Biva La Coshuegra ("To Mother-in-law's Health" - in Ladino)

Original recording from Ravel: Melodies Hebariques & Hemsi: Coplas Sefardies. Produced by Beit HaTfutsot in 1988.

Alberto Hemsi, a 20th century composer born in Turkey, devoted his life in the Near East to collecting and notating the songs of the Judeo-Spanish community. His collection of 5 hand written volumes contains 230 of these songs and poems and is entitled "El Cancionero Sefardi". Sixty of these were arranged by Hemsi for voice and piano, and published as ten volumes of "Coplas Sefardies". Opus 34 is the sixth cycle out of the ten. It was published in 1969, though the songs were originally noted by Hemsi in Izmir and Anatolia in 1920.

This song describes complaints against a mother in-law who gave nothing to her daughter. The son-in-law lavished gifts on her and all the family, hoping to win favor.

Text by Dr. Avner Bahat, originally published by Beit Hatfutsot in Ravel: Melodies Hebariques & Hemsi: Coplas Sefardies CD booklet.

Duration:
00:02:04

Original recording from Ravel: Melodies Hebariques & Hemsi: Coplas Sefardies. Produced by Beit Hatfutsot in 1988.

Alberto Hemsi, a 20th century composer born in Turkey, devoted his life in the Near East to collecting and notating the songs of the Judeo-Spanish community. His collection of five volumes contains 230 of these songs and poems and is entitled "El Cancionero Sefardi". Sixty of these were arranged by Hemsi for voice and piano, and published as ten volumes of "Coplas Sefardies". Opus 45 is the ninth volume out of the ten. It was published in 1972, though the songs were originally noted by Hemsi in Istanbul in 1933.

This song in Ladino tells the story of a young man who sneaks into the house of a fine lady who receives him well. Content, after food and drink, he dozes off on her lap. The husband arrives and chops off his head.

Text by Dr. Avner Bahat, originally published by Beit Hatfutsot in Ravel: Melodies Hebariques & Hemsi: Coplas Sefardies CD booklet.

Jacob Saban, Bursa, Turkey, 1870
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Natan Saban, Israel)
The engagement party of Roseta Sidi.
Chanakkale, the Dardanelles, Turkey 1960.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Shabtai Gormezano, Israel)
Ester Bejar from Turkey (third from left),
her son, daughter and son-in-law, during
a visir to Eretz Israel, November 24, 1935.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Gad Nasi, Israel)
Pupils of Mandoline at 'Talmud Torah' School.
Izmir, Turkey c.1965.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Dr. Gad Nassi, Israel)
Party at the "Shalom" Newspaper editorial
to celebrate the 22th anniversary of the foundation
of the Newsaper, Istanbul, Turkey c.1965.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Gad Nasi, Israel)
The mausoleum of Camondo family
in the Haskoy cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey 1981.
Photo: Izzet Keribar, Turkey.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Izzet Keribar, Turkey)
Prayer in a synagogue, with a view of the Bimah
and the Ark of the Law
Ankara, Turkey, 1964.
Photo: Michael Tal, Israel.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Michael Tal, Israel)
Jewish graves from the late 19th century
in Bergama (Pergamum), Turkey, 1985
The man in the photo is the only Jew who still lives
in the town
Photo: Ella Bar Ilan, Israel
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Ella Bar Ilan, Israel)
Young Jewish woman.
Studio photo.
Istanbul, Turkey c.1922.
(Beth Hatefuysoth Photo Archive,
courtesy of Dr. Gad Nasi, Israel)
Katy Levy and and Marko Sabineti
and their families on their wedding day,
Izmir, Turkey, 1951
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Dina Haron, Israel)
The Nasi, Pons and Kastoriano families
on a picnic in Kuzguncuk Quarter,
Istanbul, Turkey 1920's.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Dr. Gad Nasi, Israel)
The Saban brothers,
Bursa, Turkey, 1910
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Natan Saban, Israel)
The Nasi Family.
Kuzguncuk Quarter, Istanbul, Turkey 1928-1929.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Dr. Gad Nasi, Israel)

Salvator Gueron, soldier in the Turkish Army
Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey, July 1927
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Shlomo Haron, Israel)

The marble stairs leading to the "Kastoria"
Synagogue, Istanbul, Turkey, 1983
Is is one of the oldest Jewish communities in Istanbul,
preserving the memory of Castoria in Macedonia
Photo: Izzet Keribar, Istanbul
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Giancarlo Saban, Rome)
Community leader

His family originated in Turkey but moved to Egypt. His father was a political officer with the Sudanese government in Khartoum where Nessim was born. He graduated from college in that city. During World War 2 he saw active service in the British army and reached the rank of captain. After the war he joined the family business in the Sudan and in 1957 moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where he developed a worldwide business corporation in import-export, investment and real estate. Prominent in Jewish affairs, he headed the community in Khartoum and in 1966 became head of the united Ashkenazi and Sephardi community in Geneva. Gaon has been especially active in Sephardi institutions and has been president of the World Sephardi Federation since 1971. He has also been vice-president of the World Jewish Congress and chairman of the board of governors of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.
Frankist

The Wolowski family joined the Frankists in 1755-56 and converted to Catholicism. Elisha is the first known member of this family and for many years held the position of maggid in Rohatyn. He was among the leading followers of Shabbetai Tsevi in south-eastern Poland. Regarding Jacob Frank as the successor of Shabbetai Tsevi he and his sons became adherents of the Frankist sect. He initiated the disputation between the Frankists and the Rabbinates in Kamenets Podolski, participating as an advocate of Frankism. When Bishop Dembowski, the patron of the Frankists, died, Elisha had to flee across the border to Turkey along with his followers. He died there during an outbreak against members of the sect.
Cardozo, Abraham Miguel (1626-1706), leader of the Sabbatean movement, born in Spain into a crypto-Jewish family, he went to Venice, Italy, in 1648, working there as a physician. He was assailed by religious doubts and in 1659 left for Cairo, Egypt, where he spent five years studying Lurianic Kabbala. He settled in Tripoli in 1664 and remained there for ten years. While in Tripoli he began to have revelations through visions and dreams. He was respected there as a religious leader.

When news arrived of the appearance of Shabbetai Zvi, he became an enthusiastic follower of the pseudo-messiah and wrote extensively in favor of his claims, including his book Boker Avraham that he completed in Tripoli. Banned from Tripoli in 1673, he moved to Tunis, but was also banned there the following year and moved to Leghorn, Italy, and then to Smyrna (modern Izmir, in Turkey). In Smyrna he was in the center of Sabbatean circles. Cardozo began to see himself as the Messiah son of Joseph and was expelled from Smyrna in 1681. Subsequently he lived in Gallipoli, Constantinople (1686-96), Rodosto, Crete, and finally Alexandria, Egypt, where he was killed by a nephew in a family quarrel. The originality of his writings won him followers - and opponents - in many countries.
Diplomat and financier

Born in Mannheim, he was taken to New York with his family in 1865. He graduated from Columbia Law School, specializing in real estate law. From 1899 to 1905 he was president of the Central Realty Bond and Trust Company and then of Henry Morgenthau Company. Morgenthau was active in buying, selling and developing property and was largely responsible for the development of real estate in the Bronx. He was active in social and philanthropic causes and funded the Bronx House Settlement for the welfare of the poor. In 1912 he turned to politics and was chairman of the Democrat funding committee. In 1913 he was appointed US ambassador to Turkey and during World War I assisted the Jews of Palestine who were suffering from a food shortage and was also concerned with protecting Christian missionaries and Armenians. In 1921 he chaired a mission to Poland (the Morgenthau mission) to investigate conditions, particularly their treatment of Jews.
Javid Bey, Mehmed (1875–1926), Ottoman economist and statesman, born in Salonica, Greece (then part of the Ottoman Empire) to a family of Doenmeh, a group of crypto-Jews in the Ottoman Empire who openly affiliated with Islam and secretly practiced a form of Judaism called Sabbateanism. Javid worked for the Agriculture Bank and Education Ministry after graduating from the Imperial Civil Servants School in Istanbul in 1896. Six years later he returning to Salonica to head a private school there. He became active in the Young Turk movement. After the 1908 Revolution, he was elected to the Ottoman parliament, where he served from 1908 to 1918. An accomplished orator and able economist, he served as finance minister in five cabinets, where he was responsible for bringing order to the finances of the empire. Thanks to his efforts vital foreign loans were obtained and investor confidence in the Ottoman government was restored.

The combination of his personality, religious and national origins, and politics made him the target of numerous accusations of corruption, espionage, even murder. In 1914 he resigned his position in protest against the secret Ottoman-German alliance, although he remained a financial adviser to the government. He was reappointed his ministerial post in 1917. After the war he went into hiding in Istanbul and then fled to Switzerland after his offer to join the Nationalist Forces in Anatolia was rejected. He lived in Switzerland for several years and returned to Istanbul in 1922. He was a member of the Ottoman delegation at Lausanne in 1921, but fell out with Ismet Inönü. After Turkey's independence, he briefly flirted with politics but did not pursue the idea. In 1926 he was arrested after an attempt on Mustafa Kemal's life; he was convicted of sedition and executed, although no serious evidence was brought. He wrote several textbooks on economics and statistics. His memoirs were published in 1946.
Talmudic scholar and publisher

Divided most of his life among Jewish communities in countries around the Eastern Mediterranean. He arrived in Egypt in 1548, having lived in Naples, Italy, and Salonica (now in Greece), where he was employed by David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra, a leader of the Jewish community, as a teacher to his grandchildren. In Egypt, he amassed an extensive collection of books by purchasing old manuscripts and copying those in Ibn Abi Zimra's library. His love for books stayed with him until the end of his life and wherever he traveled, he spent most of his earnings in purchasing additional books. However, he lost his collections at least twice: the first time in 1554 when following the new Papal edicts against the Talmud the Venetians confiscated his manuscripts while he passed through Candia (now Iraklion, on the Island of Crete). In 1569, a fire in the Jewish quarter of Constantinople destroyed his collection of books again. He spent the later part of his life under the patronage of Esther Kiera, a philanthropist and patron of art and letters, and other influential Jews, like Don Josef Nassi, duke of Naxos. In Constantinople Akrish published a number of important Hebrew literary pieces, some of them contained in "Kovetz Vikkuhim" - a collection of ten documents featuring the letter of Profiat Duran. This was followed by "Maaseh Beth David bi-Ymei Malkhut Paras" and "Kol Mavasser" the last including the alleged correspondence between Hisdai Ibn Shaprut and Josef, the King of the Khazars in addition to stories about the Ten Lost Tribes who live beyond the Sambation river.
Herczegy, (Herczeghy) Moritz (1815-1884), physician and author, born in Budapest, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire). He was sent to a church school and studied at the universities of Pest and Vienna. His parents believed that the benefits of secular eduction and the promise of equal rights were more important than his Jewish heritage. He became a convert to Christianity.

When the 1848 revolution failed, he had to emigrate from Austria, and lived in different countries. In 1860 he lived in Paris, France, thereafter went to Italy, at that time the center of all revolutionaries. He served in the army of Garibaldi as chief surgeon. In 1865 he returned to Hungary, but he did not settle down. Three years later, in 1868, he went to Turkey, where he engaged in army service as chief surgeon. He took part in the Turko-Russian war, and was gravely wounded.

Herczeghy published some medical works, notably essays on cretinism in Italian (Bologna, 1864-1865), and on epidemics (1874). But he remained a political thinker at heart, and he dedicated a number of volumes to the struggle for a constitution of the peoples of Hungary and Austria, from the revolution of 1848 to the settlement in 1867. His more important works are: "Treuer Wegfuerer durch das junge constitutionelle Oesterreich" (1848); "Ungarn und die Monarchie" (1865); "Magyarorszag 1866-ban" (1866); "Deak Ferenc, mint allamferfi, mint szonok, mint honpolgar" (1867, "Deak Ferenc as a Statesman, as an Orator, as a Citizen"), His treatise on the legal position and the emancipation of women, published at Paris in 1864 and at Budapest in 1883, reveals him a judicious sociologist. Herczeghy died in Vienna.
Rabbi

Born in Eski-Zagora, Bulgaria, he studied in Salonika, Greece (then in the Ottoman Empire), receiving a secular as well as a religious education. In 1880 he moved to Ruse (Ruschuk), Bulgaria, where he headed the local Jewish community. Later he moved to Bucharest, Romania, as dayan and head of the Sephardi school. Bejerano had close ties with Queen Elizabeth of Romania and was an official government interpreter in Semitic languages. In 1908 he was elected chief rabbi of Adrianople (now Edirne, in Turkey) and from 1922 was Chief Rabbi of Istanbul, Turkey.
Navon, Yitshak Eliahu (1859-1952) , composer and poet, born in Edirne (Adrianopole), Turkey. He taught in the Hebrew school established by his father and wrote for the Jewish newspapers in Turkey. In 1921 he published a book entitled Shirei Israel be-Eretz Kedem ("Songs of Israel in the Ancient Country"). In 1929 he settled in Jerusalem and later moved to Tel Aviv. Some of the songs he collected and composed are today part of Israeli folk tradition. He died in Jerusalem, Israel.
Hazan, Victoria (1896-1995), singer and oud player, born into a family of cantors as Victoria Ninio in Salihli, north-east of Izmir, Turkey (then in the Ottoman Empire).

She moved to the United States after the end of the First World War where she married. Initially she sang in her synagogue for community audiences, but later she also was persuaded to make recordings of different kinds of Sefardi music which became very popular with Jewish communities in America. Hazan sang and recorded songs in Turkish, Greek, Ladino, Armenian, French, and Hebrew.

Izmir

Also known as Smyrna

Early History

Izmir (historically Smyrna) is the principal seaport of Western Anatolia on the coast of the Aegean Sea and provincial capital of the Turkish Vilayet (province) of Aydin, the third largest city in the Republic of Turkey.

The city had a Jewish population in the antiquity, as mentioned in the New Testament (Rev. 1:11; 2:8). Apparently, the Jews had some influence on the local pagan population with some of them converted to Judaism; however, the appearance of Christianity had reduced the power of the Jewish community, although only a minority of the local Jews accepted the new religion. A Jewish community in Smyrna is mentioned again in Christian sources narrating the martyrdom of Polycarp in the second century. Additional archeological evidence of Greek inscriptions from the second and the third century C.E. indicate that the community had the authority to punish any person who displayed disrespect toward it. Another inscription mentions Rufina, a woman described as the "Mother of the Synagogue". A depiction of a menorah similar to the one represented on the Triumphal Arch of the Roman Emperor Titus in Rome appears on a seal discovered in the proximity of Izmir. There are almost no mentions of a
Jewish settlement in Smyrna during the Byzantine times and it is possible that the local Jewish community disappeared for most of the medieval epoch, although Jewish communities continued to subsist in a number of neighboring towns. Smyrna, at the time an unimportant town, became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1424, following its capture from the Byzantines. Testimonies of Sephardi Jews arriving in Smyrna during the 16th century suggest the existence of a local small Romaniot Jewish community. The first Jews arrived in Izmir in the 1530s, following their expulsion (surgun, in Turkish) by the Ottomans from Belgrad, Serbia, in 1521, and Buda, Hungary, in 1524. Gravestones with Jewish motifs dating from 1540 and 1565 and found in Izmir indicate a Jewish presence in the city during the 16th century. It appears that a Jewish Sephardi-Portuguese community made up of Jewish immigrants from other cities in Asia as well as from Northern Africa and Venice was established in 1569, although
there is no evidence of its existence or of any other organized Jewish community in contemporary Ottoman documents. The great wave of Sephardi immigration into the Ottoman Empire skipped over Izmir for most of the 16th century; they began to settle in any significant numbers only towards the end of the 16th century, when gradually Izmir turned into a major Ottoman seaport.


The Golden Age of the 17th Century

The development of the Jewish community of Izmir started in the early 17th century corresponding with the increased economic status of the city as a major transit seaport, especially for the commerce with Anatolia and the countries beyond the eastern border of the Ottoman Empire. At the time, Izmir was included into the Sanjak (province) of Sigala, one of the most prosperous in the empire. The new Jewish settlers came mainly from among Sephardi refugees, although the great majority arrived in Izmir after first settling in other cities in the Ottoman Empire. A major group of settlers came from Istanbul; they were joined by Jewish immigrants from small Jewish communities in Western Anatolia as well as from Crete, Corfu, Janina (now in Greece), Ankara, and especially Salonika. Etz Hayim, Portugal, and Gerush, were among the first congregations to have been established in Izmir in the early 17th century, possibly consisting of descendants of 16th cent. settlers. The majority of Jewish
inhabitants were Ottoman subjects and according to the Muslim law were considered ahl al-dhimma - protected non-Muslims, an inferior status in the Muslim society. Jews enjoyed relative religious freedom and were able to administer separate educational and judiciary institutions. The community, known in Turkish law as taifa or kamat, and after mid 19th century, as millet, was free to collect taxes from its members in order to support its activity. Resulting from their status as dhimmis, Jews were compelled to pay a special tax – jizya (cizye or harac, in Turkish) – to the Ottoman authorities that promised them protection of their lives and property. For practical reasons, the community paid the jizya in one inclusive sum for all its members. However, the Muslim law was not strictly enforced and the Jews of Izmir were allowed to build new synagogues, of which there were already six by the mid years of the 17th century, despite a regulation permitting only renovation of exiting
synagogues and forbidding the building of new ones.

Jewish merchants of Portuguese extraction including many former conversos who returned to Judaism and settled in Italy and other European countries before immigrating to the Ottoman Empire, were called Francos and formed a distinct group within the Jewish community. During the 17th century the Francos of Izmir generally enjoyed the protection of European powers, for instance they were under the protection of France until 1693, and then for short periods under that of the Dutch consul. The Ottoman authorities regarded the Francos as musta'min – foreigners living in a Muslim country, and tended to turn them into dhimmis, especially after 1696. The Jewish community did not recognize and difference in the status of the Francos, although they tried to evade some of their obligations towards the community.

R. Yitzhak Meir HaLevy (d.1634) of Constantinople was the first rabbi in Izmir in 1606. The 1620s saw the influx of many new Jewish settlers from Salonika. Rabbi Joseph Escapa of Salonika (d.1662) was appointed the first rabbi of the Salonikan Jews, in c1620. After 1631, there was in Izmir a chief rabbi over all local congregations, whose number grew to six by 1644. They were mostly of Sephardi origin, but the city also had a small Ashkenazi congregation. Following the death of R.Y. Meir HaLevy in 1634, another rabbi from Salonika, Azariah Joshua Ashkenazi (d.1647), came to Izmir and was elected a colleague to R. J. Escapa, the chief rabbi. Following a bitter controversy that arose between the two rabbis, the community split into two factions, each supporting one rabbi. The dispute reflected differences in the way Salonikan Jews interpreted and practiced certain Jewish traditions concerning dietary laws, mourning practices, the counting of the Omer, ritual slaughter and Tisha Be-Av,
among others, as opposed by the traditions of the immigrants from Istanbul. It was only after the death of R. A.J. Ashkenazi in 1647 and the intervention of the chief rabbi in Constantinople that all congregations in Izmir once again recognized R. Escapa’s authority. The fingerprint of R. Escapa's administrative activities was evident for many generations thanks to the takkanot concerning taxes that he issued and that were respected by the Jews of Izmir and the surrounding towns. He was instrumental in consolidating Jews of various backgrounds and traditions into a common community. R. Escapa's achievements were pursued by a series of distinguished rabbis including R. Aaron Lapapa (d.1667), R. Solomon Algazi, and R. Hayim Benveniste (1603-1673) that helped transform the Jewish community into a major Jewish center of the 17th century. Its significance became evident in the important halakhic studies composed by local rabbis, especially Knesset Ha-Gedolah ("Great Assembly"), a
commentary by R. Hayim Benveniste on the Shulkhan Aruch, and the ethics treatise Shevet Musar ("Staff of Reproof") by R. Eliyah HaKohen (d.1729) of Izmir. The community comprised many affluent members that supported large yeshivot and Jewish schools. It also excelled as a center of Jewish learning: the prestige of its religious leaders having been recognized by many other Jewish communities in Anatolia, a Hebrew printing press established in 1657 and several celebrated physicians contributed to the fame of the Izmir community. Izmir was the birthplace of Shabbetai Zvi (1626-1676), the false messiah who received the support of large sections of the Jewish people all over the Diaspora. A student of R. Joseph Escapa, Shabbetai Zvi traveled to a number of Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire. His return to Izmir in September 1665 caused a great furor in the community when a majority of the local Jews converted to his teachings – ma'aminim ("believers") in the Shabbatean terminology.
They included R. Hayim Benveniste, one of the chief rabbis of Izmir. The opponents of Shabbetai Zvi grouped around R. Aaron Lapapa, the other chief rabbi, who was subsequently expulsed from Izmir leaving R. Benveniste the sole chief rabbi of the city. Throughout the four months of Shabbetai Zvi's sojourn in Izmir during the fall of 1665, the city became a centre of Messianic enthusiasm counting at least 150 "prophets", with the regular economic activities interrupted by a succession of festive days of dancing and processions intermingled with days of collective penitence. Whoever opposed the Shabbatean movement was persecuted and some had to flee the city, as did Solomon Algazi, himself an important scholar and renowned kabbalist, who was forced to take refuge in the nearby community of Magnesia. Following Shabbetai Zvi's apostasy, it took some time for the Jewish community of Izmir to settle down the virulent conflicts brought about by the false messiah.

Most Jews in Izmir were active as traders, agents, translators, and artisans. Their commercial ties extended from Persia and Syria in the East, to the countries of Western Europe, and especially to the main seaports of the Mediterranean that used to have important Jewish communities of their own. In 1688, an earthquake destroyed Izmir and killed some 400 Jews, among them the chief rabbi Aaron ben Hayim.


The 18th and 19th Centuries

During the 18th and the 19th centuries, the Jewish community of Izmir continued to flourish as its economic activity moved to the manufacture, especially of wool from goat's fleece, and of carpets. The European trade of the local Jews flourished after 1774, with many acting as exporters of cereals, figs, oil, raisins, carpets, licorice and beans. Jews also acted as dragomans (translators and local agents) for European merchants, banking houses and consulates. A special mention should be made of Moshe Soncino who was controller of the customhouse in 1718 and Moshe Arditi, a governmental treasurer in 1812. During the 19th century, especially after the liberal reforms known as Tanzimat were introduced in the Ottoman Empire bringing about an end to the formal discrimination against the dhimmis, an increasing number of Jews held various positions in the local municipal government and judicial court. There had also been numerous Jewish physicians and surgeons in the Jewish community of
Izmir, some of them plague specialists. However, the fortunes of the Jewish community of Izmir were impaired by frequent disasters: great fires (1743, 1772, 1841, and 1881), at least eleven epidemics of cholera between 1770 and 1892, and a number of powerful earthquakes. The great fire of 1772 was particularly destructive leaving the community for 28 years with no standing synagogue, until the Ottoman authorities issued authorizations for new buildings. During this long period, the Jews of Izmir were constrained to pray in specially adapted private houses.

The intellectual life of the community was bolstered with the establishment of a printing house in 1657 by Abraham ben Jedidiah Gabbai, an immigrant from Livorno, Italy. Rosh Yosef by R. J. Escapa was the first book published in Izmir. In addition to several Hebrew books, Gabbai printed a second edition of Mikve Yisrael – Esperanza de Israel ("The Hope of Israel") by R. Manassh Ben Israel and Apologia por la noble nacion de los Judios, by Eduardo Nicholas, both books in Spanish with Latin characters, the last one being a translation from English by R. Manasseh. Izmir became the third printing center in the Ottoman Empire, after Constantinople and Salonika. More than 400 titles, mostly of rabbinical literature were printed in the Izmir from the 18th until the early 20th century by twelve various printers, Ben Senior (1913-1922) being the last one. Local rabbis were the authors of many of the works printed in Izmir. R. Joseph ben Elijah Chazzan's commentaries Ein Yosef were published
in Izmir already in 1675, it was followed by R. Aaron Alfandari's Yad Aharon (Izmir, 1735), and R. Abraham ibn Ezra's Battei Knessiyot (Salonika, 1806). Other important authors include R. Isaac B. Moshe Nunez Belmonte and R. Isaac Di Mayo (d.1810), who both composed commentaries on Maimonides' Yad Hazaka: Sha'ar ha- Melekh (Salonika, 1801) and Shorashei Ha-Yam (Salonika, 1807), respectively. R. Hayim Palaggi (Palache) (1788-1868), chief rabbi of Izmir and of another six neighboring communities after 1855 and appointed Hakham Bashi of Izmir by the Ottoman authorities in 1856, is the author of over more than 70 works, most of them have been published. R. Joseph Hazzan's (1741-1820) seven-volume collection of response Chikrei Lev (Salonika, 1806) and R. Nissim Abraham Ashkenazi's Nechmad le-Mareh commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud (Salonika, 1832) are additional important works composed by the Izmir rabbis. Several important rabbis of Izmir emigrated to the Land of Israel: R. Hayim b.
Jacob Abulafia (d. 1744), a native of Tiberias, was chief rabbi of Izmir from 1720 to 1740, when he returned to Tiberias along with his disciples and restored the Jewish settlement in that city, having received the assistance of the Istanbul Committee Officials of the Land of Israel that were in charge of organizing immigration and pilgrimages to the Land of Israel. Other rabbis of Izmir who settled in the Land of Israel include R. Hayim Moda'i (d. 1794), a Safed-born chief rabbi of Izmir from 1776 till 1793, when he returned to Safed, and R. Joseph Hazzan (1741- 1820) who settled in Hebron in 1813 and then in Jerusalem, where he was appointed Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel.

There were numerous synagogues in Izmir. Bikkur Holim, one of the earliest, was founded in 1690 by Solomon de Ciaves, a Dutch merchant who settled in Izmir. The Shalom or Ayndilis synagogue, also known as Shabbetai Zvi synagogue or Kahal de abacho, is thought to have been founded in the 17th century. The Portuguese synagogue was established in 1710, The Mahazikei Torah in 1722, the Algazi also known as Kahal de ariva, in 1728. The Segnora (Geveret) synagogue was named after Dona Gracia Mendes and believed to have been founded by her. However, the natural catastrophes that repeatedly hit the city destroyed the original buildings. New synagogues were established in the 19th century, among them the Shalom synagogue (1800), the Forasteros, and Beth Levi (1898). Many of the old synagogues of Izmir are distinguished by a unique architectural style. Their praying hall is either rectangular or square and divided into nine equal sections by four ceiling supporting columns situated in the
center. The interior decorations are generally of wood and reflect local decorating traditions common to Western Anatolia and the adjacent Greek islands of eastern Aegean Sea. It should pointed out that the building of the Mahazikei Torah synagogue, also known as the Sonsino synagogue, provoked the anger of the local Turkish authorities who subsequently ordered its demolition because of its alleged resemblance to the local Hisar Cami mosque. It took the community many efforts to cancel this edict. By the end of the 19th century in the Shalom, Talmud Torah and other synagogues belonging to this architectural style, the tevah was been moved towards the western wall reflecting an Italian influence. Beth El synagogue, the largest and most elegant in Izmir, was built by specially employed Italian artisans in the 1900s. It shows modern European influences, notably by the location of the tevah close to the Holy Ark towards the eastern wall. By the end of the 19th century, there were in
Izmir a total of ten synagogues and eight prayer-houses.

During the 19th century, the cultural activity diversified with the publication of the first Jewish newspaper - Puerta del Oriente - founded by Pincherle in 1846. It was followed in the 19th century by at least other five periodicals, among them La Buena Esperanza (1871-1910), El Novelista (1889-1922), and El Messerret (1897-1922), all published in Ladino, the language of the local Jews. After 1838, more than 110 books were published in Ladino, and by the end of the 19th century, many were volumes of poetry, novels, and stories, besides religious works. The Jewish traditional education and learning declined with fewer yeshivot and students; however, in 1847 Abraham Enriquez founded a new Talmud Torah that was subsequently enlarged in 1871. The first Alliance Israelite Universelle school for boys of was opened in 1878 followed a year later by a school for girls. A second vocational school for girls with 34 students was opened in 1884. By 1895 there were in Izmir four Jewish schools
for boys with about 2,500 students and two Jewish schools for girls with some 500 students

The first Jewish hospital was opened in 1805; after 1840, the Rothschild family of Vienna enlarged and financed it for some years. The Rothschild hospital was closed in 1911, but three years later, a new Jewish hospital was opened in the Karatas district. During the 19th century, several charitable volunteer associations fulfilled many of the social and welfare activities of the community. Bikkur Holim and Bikkur Holim shel Nashim served as a Hevra Kadisha, while Hevra Kedosha shel Gvarim was responsible with the maintenance of the cemeteries. The needy families received financial support from Ozer Dalim association, and Hachnasat Orchim was in charge of foreign Jewish visitors to Izmir. There were additional associations who carried for orphans, underprivileged brides and needy patients. Part of the expenses of the Talmud Torah and the Jewish hospital were met from the revenues generated by a lottery organized by Gemillut Hassadim association. In addition, the community received
substantial financial support from a number of donors: a new cemetery in the neighborhood of Burnabat was purchased with the help of Alexander Sidi while Nissim Crispin dedicated his efforts to the benefit of the Alliance schools. The Barons Edmond de Rothschild and Maurice de Hirsch, too, contributed to the welfare of the Jewish community of Izmir.

The leadership of the community consisted of two main bodies: the Beth Din who acted as a legal court and dealt with the civil and commercial disputes among Jews and sometimes also with disputes between Jews and non-Jews. It generally had between three to seven members and sometimes was headed by the chief rabbi of Izmir. The Community Council, on the other hand, had twelve members elected annually. The Council was responsible with the administrative functions of the community, including collecting the taxes. In the second half of the 19th century, the community adopted new and more democratic methods of governing. They lead to an increased participation of the community members in the decision making process and on the other hand to the introduction of some limits to the authority of the chief rabbi.

The earliest Jewish cemetery located in Barhi Baba had been in use since the 17th century until the early 19th century, it was destroyed in early 20th century to make room for the new urban developments. In addition to the Burnabat cemetery, the Gurt Cesme cemetery was used between the end of the 19th century until the 1930s. The new cemetery still in use opened in the 1930s.

The 19th century saw a degradation of the general relations between the Jewish community and the Greek population of Izmir. Already in the late 18th century anti Jewish accusations had been vociferated by some sections of the Greek population; during the second half of the 19th century there was an upsurge in blood-label accusations with six cases between 1864 and 1901. The Ottoman police interfered to protect the Jewish population, most notably in 1872, when two Jews were murdered because of the Greek attacks, and in 1901, when the Greek mob threatened to storm the Jewish neighborhoods.

During the 19th century some Jews managed to obtain the protection of European powers, especially there was a significant number of families who became Italian nationals, followed by small numbers of French citizens while others, like the Palache and the Leon families, acquired the protection of the Netherlands.


The 20th Century

The Jewish population of Izmir has been since the middle of the 19th century in a steadily decline. Out of about 40,000 Jews in 1868, making Izmir the third largest Jewish community in the Ottoman Empire, after Salonika and Istanbul, there remained only 25,000 in the early years of the 20th century. The second number included a small Ashkenazi community founded by Jewish refugees from Russia in 1905. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the ensuing Turko-Greek war (1919-1921) that had ravaged the region of Izmir and badly damaged the city, brought about a renewed exodus of the local Jews with many moving to Greece or emigrating to France, the United States, and Argentina. In 1927, there were about 17,000 Jews in Izmir, and twenty years later approximately 15,000. Following the establishment of the State of Israel, some 10,000 Jews of Izmir made aliyah. In the early 1960s, there were less than 2,000 Jews in Izmir, but later their number grew to about 3,000 in the 1970s. There are
now about 2,400 Jews in Izmir out of a total population of 2,300,000 inhabitants, making it the second largest Jewish community in Turkey, after Istanbul.

There were a number of volunteer associations active in the Jewish community of Izmir: Liga de Pas ("The Association of Peace and Solidarity"), known after 1925 by its Turkish name – Yardim ve Kardeslik Cemiyeti ("The Brotherhood Association of Assistance"), was founded in 1909 and devoted its activities to the modernization of the community.

During the Second World War (1939-1945), the Jewish community of Izmir was instrumental in rescuing about one thousand Jews from the German occupied Greek Aegean islands. After December 1943, with the help of Greek partisans, groups of Greek Jews had been smuggled to Turkey in small boats. The Jewish community of Izmir offered to shelter them until the British authorities in Istanbul issued them the necessary authorizations to emigrate to Palestine.

The dramatic decline in population during the early 1950s caused the shutting down of several community institutions, among them the Alliance Israelite Universelle school, though it was opened again in 1959. In the 1960s there functioned only one Jewish school and two synagogues, the community still maintained a hospital and a rabbinical court headed by Chief Rabbi Moreno Siegora until his death in 1966. In 1970, there were still some organized youth activities.

Most of the Jews who remained in Izmir during the last decades of the 20th century were active as merchants, some of them exporters and industrialists. The general economic situation of the community was good and they enjoyed good relations with the local Turkish population, except for some attacks on Jewish shops during the demonstrations connected with the problem of Cyprus in September 1955.

The current religious life of the Izmir community is concentrated mainly around two synagogues: the Beth El synagogue and Shaar Hashamaym, a new synagogue located in the modern district of Alsancak that also houses the offices of the local rabbinate and community. The cultural activities are promoted by the Liga benevolent association established in 1990. However, the veteran Talmud Torah school was closed in 1998 and the remaining students transferred to the local American school. Some 150 children attend a Jewish elementary school with Turkish as the language of instruction and Hebrew taught for 15 hours a week. The Jewish hospital in Karatas now admits non-Jewish patients as well. An old age home is located in an adjoining building.

Mezőkövesd 

A town in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, north east Hungary.

According to tombstones found in the cemetery, there were Jews in the town during the days of the Turks, but Jews began to resettle in the town in 1820 approximately. The majority were engaged in commerce. There was a hevra kadisha (burial society) as well as educational institutions and a women's association. The first synagogue was built in 1853 and in 1896 a large, beautiful synagogue was built.
In 1871, as a result of differences between Haredim (orthodox) and Maskilim (moderates) at the Jewish Congress in 1869, the community affiliated with the Orthodox stream which refused to accept the decisions of Congress. Zionists were active even before World War I and some of the members of the community went on Aliyah to Eretz Israel.

In World War I, 30 Jews served in the army; ten of them fell in action.

During the revolutionary period after World War I the Romanian army occupied the town for a year. Many Jews were imprisoned or charged with left wing activities. The White Terror which followed, pogroms against the Jews instigated by right wing military elements (1919-21) after the fall of the communist regime, saw many Jews accused of co-operating with the enemy.

In 1930 the community numbered 874.


The Holocaust Period

In 1938, after the publication of discriminatory laws which aimed at limiting Jewish participation in the economic and cultural fields, the business licenses of the Jews were immediately expropriated and given to Christians. Later, Jewish shop owners were mobilized in labor battalions, in the framework of assisting the Hungarian-German war effort, and were sent to the Ukrainian front. The majority, who worked at lifting mines, perished. At the end of 1944, the leaders of the community were held in detention camps, and a ghetto was erected under the control of the Jewish council. A public kitchen and medical clinic were organized in the ghetto. At the beginning of June the Jews were sent to the Miskolc ghetto. On June 7 they were transported to Auschwitz.

After the war communal life was not renewed. A few Jews from the community returned to the city. They found the burned synagogue building and gravestones in the ruined cemetery. The few survivors who returned were soon forced to leave because of the hostility of the authorities and the local inhabitants.

Bátaszék 

A town in the Tolna district, southern Hungary.

The first Jewish settlers came to Bataszek even during the time of the Turkish rule in the middle of the 17th century, but large scale settlement was at the end of the 18th century. The community was organized in 1851. Until the end of the 19th century, the majority of the Jews were engaged in the cultivation of vineyards and production of wine, but at the beginning of the 20th century the majority made a living in commerce. A synagogue was built in 1862. There was also a school.

Because of differences between Haredim and Maskilim (moderates) at the Jewish Congress in 1868, the community affiliated with the Neolog (reform) movement, which advocated integration into Hungarian society and amendments to the religious way of life.

In the 1930s there was strong antisemitism, largely because many of the inhabitants were Germans, members of the Volksbund.

In 1930 the community numbered 122 Jews.


The Holocaust Period

In 1941 the young Jews were sent to do forced labor, work on fortifications and in services together with other Hungarian citizens whom the authorities would not allow to join the armed forces, and they were attached to a unit known as the Death Unit because of the brutal conditions to which they were subjected. Only a few of them survived.

On March 19, 1944, after the German occupation, local residents, with the help of S.S. units, organized riots against the Jews which continued for three days. Many Jews were taken to the yard of the S.S. headquarters from which they returned with injuries, and with blood flowing after they were compelled to dance and sing for their tormentors. At the end of April all the Jews were transferred, about one hundred people, to the Bonyhad ghetto. Here they were tortured during body searches for valuables.

On June 29, the Jews of Bataszek were moved to the Pecs ghetto in the Baranya district. Here they suffered from overcrowding and hunger. At the beginning of July 1944, they were transported to Auschwitz. Some of the young women were transferred to Stutthof Nazi concentration camp in Germany and from there to the forests near Toron where they were employed cutting down trees and laying pipes and cables. The majority of the women perished from the cold, hunger and loss of strength.

After the war, a few survivors - about 18 in all - returned to the town but the life of the community was not renewed. A memorial for the martyrs was erected.

Bursa

Also Brusa, formerly Prusa

A city in northwestern Anatolia, Turkey.

Bursa was the capital of the Ottomans in 14th century; afterward a provincial capital.

According to Hebrew inscriptions of 820 C.E., Jews lived in Bursa in the Byzantine period.

When Bursa was captured by the Ottomans (1326), the town was vacated by its inhabitants but the Jews returned shortly after.

Spanish exiles settled in the town in the first half of the 16th century and the existing community of Romaniot Jews assimilated among them.

The Jews in Bursa lived in a special quarter where they continued to reside until the 1960s. The Etz Chayyim synagogue, which resembles a mosque, is the oldest of the town's three synagogues, the others (Gerush and Mayor) having been established later by Spanish exiles.

In 1592 several Jews were accused of luring a man named Mirza b. Chusain into their home and tying him to a pillar where they drew blood from him though he ultimately escaped. The sultan ordered the eight Jews involved to be exiled to Rhodes.

Before Passover 1865, another blood accusation occurred, but the authorities took immediate measures to punish Greeks who began riots in the Jewish quarter.

The Jews of Bursa were chiefly occupied in trade. The merchants were mainly connected with the town's famous silk industry and there were also many craftsmen. More recently the majority imported and exported skins, grain and silk.

In the second half of the 17th century, 1,200 Jews lived in Bursa, and before World War I the community numbered 3,500. In 1927 this fell to 1,865, due to a considerable emigration to South America.

In 1939 there were 2,400 Jews, but in 1969 only 350-400 remained.

In 1997 there were about 100 Jews living in Bursa.

Ağva

Also Yeşilçay

A town in the Şile district of İstanbul Province, Turkey

Nerwa

Narwah

An urban settlement in north Iraqi Kurdistan, south east of Amadia, north Iraq.

According to a tradition among the Jews of Kurdistan, they had come to Kurdistan as exiles from Eretz Israel at the time of King Shalmaneser of Assyria, before the destruction of the First Temple, and did not return to Eretz Israel. Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela found Jewish communities in the region on his visit before the year 1170.

Further information about Jews there is of the 17th century. The leaders of the communities at that time were the families of Rabbis Adoni (Barazani), Mizrahi, Duga and Hariri. Much later, in 1880, the traveler Mordecai Edelman visited the region. He reported having found poor rural communities of Jews who were very strict in observing all the mitzvot (religious precepts) and spoke a language that they called Targum (the Aramaic Bible translation), which is in fact distorted Aramaic mixed with Syrian. The Jews were under the patronage of the sheikh or “agha”, the feudal local ruler, who was the head of the tribe. They were practically serfs. He gave them protection and in return they looked after his property and provided him with guards.

The Jews of Kurdistan often moved from the small villages to bigger settlements and the towns for safety reasons. This explains the occasional changes in the composition and size of the communities. The urban Jews engaged in wholesale and retail trade and in peddling. There were also artisans, like weavers, dyers of fabrics, tanners, goldsmiths and silversmiths, cobblers and carpenters. The Jews of the villages made a living as small traders and peddlers, and also as artisans. Some were farmers who grew wheat, barley, rice, sesame, lentils, tobacco, etc. There were also individuals who owned vineyards and groves and others who bred cattle and sheep.

The life of the communities centered around the old synagogue. At the head of each community stood the hakham, who was at the same time also a hazzan (cantor), mohel (circumciser), shohet (slaughterer), and gabbai (warden). On matters of halakha (rabbinical law), they refrred to the rabbis of Baghdad. Three year old children began their schooling at the beth midrash, where they were taught torah and prayers, and reading and writing in Rashi script. The older children learned torah, mishnah, and gemara. At the age of eight, they began going to the general school.

The Jews lived in their own houses, around the synagogue. The Jewish quarter was not surrounded by a wall. The houses were of one storey, built of unburnt mud bricks or of unplanned stone. In the mountain settlements, each house was linked to the house above it.

According to Jewish records, Jews were living at Nerwa in the 16th century. An important Jewish community existed at the place in the 17th century, headed by two disciples of Rabbi Jacob ben Judah Mizrahi of Mosul. In 1788 stayed at Nerwa Rabbi Sa’adiah Cohen, the assistant of the emissary Shmuel Benjamin from Eretz Israel. At that time lived at Nerwa Rabbi Obadiah, a poet, cantor, and an exemplary man. His sons were also poets.

On the eve of World War I (1914-1918), a dispute broke out between the “agha” of Nerwa and the Sheikh Barazan, the strong man of the tribes in the area. Sheikh Barazan assaulted Nerwa and set fire to the town, including the synagogues with their torah scrolls and also most of the Jewish houses. The Jews of Nerwa fled to other places and only a number of families remained at the place, without a rabbi, a shohet (ritual slaughterer), and a mohel (circumciser). They became affiliated to the community of Amadia.

In 1925, following World War I, Nerwa was annexed to Turkey as a result of an agreement between Great Britain, at that time the ruler of Iraq, and independent Turkey. Following the annexation more Jews left Nerwa and moved to Mosul, Betanura and other places in Iraqi Kurdistan. Some of them reached Eretz Israel. The last Jews of Nerwa came under protection of the heads of the Kurdistani tribes of the region and their fate is unknown.

Sindur

Sandūr; Sindor; in Arabic: سندور

A large rural settlement in northern Iraqi Kurdistan, near the border with Turkey, north Iraq.

According to a tradition among the Jews of Kurdistan, they had come to Kurdistan as exiles from Eretz Israel at the time of King Shalmaneser of Assyria, before the destruction of the First Temple, and did not return to Eretz Israel. Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela found Jewish communities in the region on his visit before the year 1170.

In the 17th century leaders of the communities at that time were the families of Rabbis Adoni (Barazani), Mizrahi, Duga and Hariri. Much later, in 1880, the traveler Mordecai Edelman visited the region. He reported having found poor rural communities of Jews who were very strict in observing all the mitzvot (religious precepts) and spoke a language that they called Targum (the Aramaic Bible translation), which is in fact distorted Aramaic mixed with Syrian. The Jews were under the patronage of the sheikh or “agha”, the feudal local ruler, who was the head of the tribe. They were practically serfs. He gave them protection and in return they looked after his property and provided him with guards.

The Jews of Kurdistan often moved from the small villages to bigger settlements and the towns for safety reasons. This explains the occasional changes in the composition and size of the communities. The urban Jews engaged in wholesale and retail trade and in peddling. There were also artisans, like weavers, dyers of fabrics, tanners, goldsmiths and silversmiths, cobblers and carpenters. The Jews of the villages made a living as small traders and peddlers, and also as artisans. Some were farmers who grew wheat, barley, rice, sesame, lentils, tobacco, etc. There were also individuals who owned vineyards and groves and others who bred cattle and sheep.

The life of the communities centered around the old synagogue. At the head of each community stood the hakham, who was at the same time also a hazzan (cantor), mohel (circumciser), shohet (slaughterer), and gabbai (warden). On matters of halakha (rabbinical law), they refrred to the Rabbis of Baghdad. Three year old children began their schooling at the beth midrash, where they were taught torah and prayers, and reading and writing in Rashi script. The older children learned torah, mishnah, and gemara. At the age of eight, they began going to the general school.

The Jews lived in their own houses, around the synagogue. The Jewish quarter was not surrounded by a wall. The houses were of one storey, built of unburnt mud bricks or of unplanned stone. In the mountain settlements, each house was linked to the house above it.

The community of Sindur is on record in a letter of the early 17th century from the large community of Mosul to the head of the Sindur community, the hakham Abraham. Also available are divorce records from Sindur of that period. In 1827 the traveller David d’Beth Hillel visited Sindur and found there a community of 100 Jewish families who engaged in farming and the breeding of cattle and sheep. They were prosperous. The community had one synagogue. In 1848 the traveler Benjamin ii told of 50 Jewish families at Sindur, but in 1852 close to 100 Jewish families were recorded at the place, forming the entire population of the village. Another traveler who visited the place in 1872 reported some 50 Jewish houses at Sindur and another 10 houses whose owners had come from Eretz Israel. The Jews engaged at that time in farming and growing vines. At the head of the community stood the Hakham Sasson, who was the rabbi and also the shohet (slaughterer) and the hazzan (cantor). According to one source, there were about 100 Jews at Sindur in 1884, and according to another source 250 Jews. They engaged in trade, weaving, and farming. In 1888 400 Jews were living at Sindur. It is assumed that until the beginning of the 20th century not all the Jews had been counted in censuses.

The Jewish inhabitants at Sindur, the only inhabitants of the village, spoke Arabic and Karamangi (a Kurdish dialect), unlike the other Jews of Kurdistan who spoke Aramaic. They engaged in weaving rugs, embroidering, knitting and spinning. Some families were tanners and cobblers, still others were traders and peddlers in the villages of the area, and some owned land and engaged in farming. In the 1930’s Sindur cultivated 5,000 dunams of vines, which produced grapes for the industry of raisins.

In 1906 800 Jews were living at Sindur. An official document of 1917, based apparently on a census, stated that “Sindur is a Jewish village of 80 houses (families).” Jews of Sindur emigrated to Eretz Israel already in the years 1920-26. In 1931 Jews lived at Sindur in 25 houses. They produced raisins. Dr Arthur Ruppin found at Sindur in 1932 70 Jewish families. They were farmers and vine growers. They sold wine in Mosul. Some of them were engaged in weaving. In 1934 Benzion Israeli visited Sindur and wrote that Sindur was a Jewish village, with houses built of stone and clay. Among others, there were at Sindur also 10 Jewish families of “Muhajirin”, Jewish refugees from nearby villages. At the head of the community stood a mukhtar. The emissaries from Eretz Israel, among them Izhak Ben-Zvi, Shelomo Hillel, and Benzion Israeli, encouraged the Jews of Sindur to go to Eretz Israel. Israeli came from Sindur with a list of 67 Jews who expressed their wish to go to Eretz Israel and indeed more Jews from Sindur came in 1935. Some 70 families including probably those who had come in the 1920’s settled in Jerusalem. They founded a synagogue and two committees. Dr W. Fischel visited Sindur in 1937 and found an entirely Jewish village, with 200 inhabitants.

During the 1930’s the village was conducted independently by its Jewish inhabitants. They also manned the village guard. In 1930 the mukhtar of Sindur, Moshe Mordecai, was killed by the head of the neighboring Kurdish village, as a revenge for the killing of his brother by the guards of Sindur when trying to steal cattle. Jehuda Mordecai, the brother of Moshe, was appointed mukhtar in his place. The revenge assassination settled the hostility and friendly relations with the Kurds of the area then ensued. During. The period of the revolt of Rashid Ali Al Gailani against the British the Kurds protected the Jews of Sindur. Nevertheless, in 1941, in the course of the revolt, local inhabitants attacked the Jewish houses and killed a number of them. Since then the Jews of Sindur were living in fear and those who could leave moved to bigger towns. In 1942 Jewish soldiers from Eretz Israel who served in units of the British army visited Sindur and took part in the prayers at the synagogue.

The soldiers related that all the inhabitants of Sindur were Jewish and that they were farmers. Indeed, most of the Sindur Jews engaged in agriculture. The two “hakham”s of the village taught the children torah and Hebrew. There were 70 Jewish houses at Sindur at that time. The Mukhtar Moshe Jehuda and Siso Shimon were big merchants who traded in fabrics with the Kurds. The life of the community centered around the great ancient synagogue, with its many scrolls of the torah. On feast days some 1,000 Jews of Sindur and the vicinity attended the public prayers at the synagogue. On Sabbath days the Jews of Sindur gathered around the synagogue for singing and dancing. The children were taught torah only at the synagogue. Toward the end of the 1940’s Jewish notables of the community of Baghdad visited Sindur. Among them was Sasson Bahar who suggested building a modern school at Sindur. The building indeed began but was stopped in the early 1950’s, when the Aliyah of the Jews of Iraq to Israel was under way.

In 1950 some 100 Jewish families, about 1,000 persons, were living at Sindur. Zionist activity began in 1946 with the arrival of emissaries from Eretz Israel. The youth of the community gathered to listen to the stories of the emissaries about the struggle in Eretz Israel against the Arabs and the British. When the War of Independence of Israel broke out in 1948, the authorities in Baghdad began to persecute the Jews. Jewish shops were closed, property and money confiscated. The Kurdish neighbors continued however to maintain good relations with the Jews. In 1951 the Jews of Sindur organized themselves for Aliyah to Israel. They went to Baghdad first and from there were flown to Israel. Some of the Jews of Sindur, including the Mordecai family, settled in the moshavim Yardena and Sede-Terumot. The Duga family settled in Maoz Zion near Jerusalem.

Buyukada

Büyükada

An island on the Sea of Marmara off Istanbul, Turkey.

Adrianople

Edirne in Turkish, ancient name Uskudam

A city located near the Turkish-Greek frontier, Turkey.

Adrianople was named after the Roman emperor Hadrian (125 c.e.).

Individual Jews went to Adrianople even before the destruction of the second temple, but knowledge of a Jewish settlement comes only from the beginning of the Byzantine period. The Adrianople Jews then traded in textiles, leather goods, and wine. Another source mentions the community's opposition to the messianic ferment in the Byzantine Empire at the time of the first crusade (1096).

After the Ottoman capture, the Jewish settlement expanded owing to the influx of immigrants who had been expelled from Hungary (1376) and from France (1394). After the capture of Constantinople in 1453, r. Isaac Tzarefati, the leader of the Ashkenazi community (Bulgaria, Rumelia, and Serbia), issued an appeal to west European Jews to settle in the Ottoman Empire. There was some emigration from the town to Constantinople, however after 1492 many exiles from Spain, Portugal, and Italy came to Adrianople. In 1666 Shabbetai Tzevi was brought to Adrianople for questioning before the Sultan, and after his apostasy, some of his disciples in Adrianople also converted to Islam. In the 18th century, the Jews were raided by the mountaineers who descended from the Kirdzhal mountains in the Balkans. They robbed the Jews and imposed heavy tribute on them.

During the second half of the 19th century, Jews suffered from blood libels spread by the Armenians. Jews also suffered when the Bulgarians temporarily occupied Adrianople during the Balkan wars (1913).

Adrianople was long a center of learning. In the 15th century Mordecai Comtino lived there and at the beginning of the 16th century Rabbi Joseph Caro wrote most of his famous Beit Yosef commentary there. In the 16th century there lived in Adrianople the Ibn Verga family and the poet Rabbi Avtalyon Ben Mordecai. In the 18th century Rabbi Isaac Molkho, author of Shulchan Gaoha, a popular handbook on the laws of Shechitah, lived in Adrianople. In the middle of the 19th century, the Haskalah movement penetrated Adrianople through the philologist Joseph Halevy. On the request of the Maskilim, the Alliance Israelite Universelle opened a school for boys in 1876 and one for girls in 1870. The writer Baruch Ben Isaac di-Trani taught at the Alliance schools (1847-1919). He established the newspaper Karmi (1871-1881) and Kerem Sheli (1890) in Hebrew and Ladino.

Apart from the rabbanite community, there was also a Karaite community dating from the Byzantine period; among its members was the Bash Yazi family which became famous in Karaite history. At the beginning of the 20th century no trace of the Karaites remained.

In 1554, Solomon and Joseph Jabez set up a Hebrew printing press and published Shevet Yehudah by Solomon Ibn Verga and Sha'arit Yosef by Joseph Ibn Verga.

In 1873 there were approximately 12,000 Jews in the town; during 1903-11, 17,000. Before World War I their numbers rose to 28,000 but thereafter they declined to 13,000 in 1921-1922, 5,712 in 1927, and 2,000 in 1943. In 1965, 400 Jews still resided in Adrianople. This decline can be explained in part by the changed status of the town, and in part by the impoverishment due to wars, which resulted in emigration to Salonika, Palestine, and the United States.

Ankara

Turkish: Enguruz, Romanian: Ancyra, ancient name: Enguru

The capital of Turkey since 1923. Located in Central Anatolia, Turkey

There are approximately 26,000 Jews living in Turkey, the vast majority of whom live in Istanbul. Ankara's Jewish population is small; there are about 100 Jews living in Turkey's capital city. The city is home to the Samanpazari Synagogue, which does not offer regular services and is opened only for weddings, funerals, and special occasions. Like all Turkish Jews, the Jews of Ankara are officially represented by the Hakham Bassi, the chief rabbi.

The Israeli embassy is located in Ankara.

HISTORY

Ankara was a trading center along the trade route from the west to Persia and the Far East. It was a way station for Jewish merchants, some of whom decided to settle there permanently.

After the expulsions from Spain and Portugal at the end of the 15th century, exiles began arriving in the city in large numbers, joining the small community of merchants that had been living there. The refugees from Spain organized a Spanish community, while those who had been expelled from Portugal established a separate Portuguese community. The two communities united in the mid-16th century.

During the 1520s there were 231 Jews living in Ankara; fifty years later the Jewish population had increased to 747. The Jews of Ankara were mostly silk and wool traders. They established business contacts in a number of major cities both within Turkey and in some major European cities.

The rabbis Moses de Boton and David HaKohen were sought out by the Jews of Ankara and the surrounding areas to answer questions of Jewish law. They were the exceptions to the claims made by the rabbis of Safed in Eretz Yisrael that the rabbis of Ankara could not be relied upon to answer halakhic questions that required detailed knowledge.

As a result of plagues, an increase in blood libels levied by local Christians, as well as the jelali revolts of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Jews began leaving Ankara. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the number of Jews living in Ankara and the surrounding districts rose from 415 in 1883 to 1,265 in 1908 (the population would decline to 1,026 in 1914). The community was led by rabbis Eliezer Funes and Samuel Amon at the end of the 19th century. Rabbi Samuel Bahar was the next to lead the community, and he oversaw the major renovation of the Samanpazari Synagogue from 1908 to 1909.

Ankara was declared the capital of the Republic of Turkey on October 13, 1923, and the city saw a temporary increase in its Jewish population. In 1927 there were 663 Jews living in Ankara, which grew to 1,565 in 1945. By 1955 the population had dropped again, to 578 people. There were 648 Jews living in Ankara in 1960 and 671 in 1965.

A Jewish Quarter was located in the old town until the 1970s, when most of Ankara's Jewish residents moved to Israel or Istanbul.

Yozgat

A city and the capital of the Yozgat province in Anatolia, Turkey

Iskenderun

Formerly Alexandretta; Scanderoon

Turkish harbor town on the gulf of the same name.

Jews settled in Iskenderun in the Middle Ages. They were expelled by the crusaders in 1098, but returned during the 16th century. During the 17th century the Jews of Iskenderun were among the supporters of Shabbetai Tzevi. The community was small and numbered some tens of families. After World War I about 20 families remained in Iskenderun, most of whom emigrated to Israel with the establishment of the state.

Manissa

Identical with the ancient Magnesia, today the chief town of the Turkish province bearing the same name, N.E. of Izmir.

A Jewish community probably existed in Manissa from the first century C.E., but there is no extant information on it. During the Byzantine period, there was a congregation in the town and a synagogue, Etz Ha-Chayyim. After 1492 groups of Jews expelled from Spain arrived in Manissa; they founded two congregations and two synagogues, Lorca and Toledo. Later, as a result of a dispute which broke out in the town, a third congregation, Shalom, was established. At the end of the 15th century, there were more than 100 Jewish families in the town. With the rising importance of Izmir, and as a result of a plague which broke out in the town in 1617, many families left for Izmir. During this period the local rabbi was Rabbi Aaron Lapapa. At the beginning of the 19th century, the synagogues were renovated and a plot of land was consecrated for a new cemetery. In 1837 200 Jews died of the plague. In 1838 the Jewish community numbered about 1,200. There were blood libels against the Jews in the town in 1883 and 1893.

In 1891 the first school for boys was founded, and in 1896 this was followed by a school for girls. Both were administered by the Alliance Israelite Universelle. At the beginning of the 20th century the Jewish community numbered about 2,000, out of a total population of some 40,000. During this period two additional synagogues were built. After the conquest of the region by the Greeks in 1919, the Jews continued to support the Turks. They did not fly the Greek flag on their institutions and did not attend the Congress (August 1922) which demanded autonomy for Izmir and its surroundings.

When the Greeks retreated in 1922, a great fire broke out in the town, as a result of which a number of Jewish institutions, including the yeshivah, were destroyed. In the late 1930s the community numbered only 30 families. The principal occupations of the Jews were commerce - the export of agricultural products (fruit, tobacco, and raisins) and the import of manufactured goods - and crafts - tailoring, shoemaking, money changing; there were also some farm owners. A few Jews served as physicians in the government hospitals, as judges, and as translators in the foreign consulates of the town. In the mid-20th century many families emigrated to the USA, South Africa, Egypt, and Israel. By 1970 no Jews were living in Manissa.

Urfa

Şanliurfa; ancient name: Edessa

A town in the upper Euphrates valley, Turkey.

Until 11 C.E. Edessa was part of the border area that passed on various occasions from Parthian to Roman hands. The town was conquered in August 116 by Lusius Quietus, and remained a Roman possession until 216, when it was officially incorporated into the Roman Empire. By the end of the second century C.E. Edessa had become the center of Christianity beyond the Euphrates, and this development suggests a Jewish influence in the area during that period.

It is known, for instance, that the local King during the early second century, Abgar VII, was a son of Izates of Adiabene, a monarchy already converted to Judaism. Eusebius, a primary source regarding the establishment of Christianity in Edessa, relates that Abgar V had corresponded with Jesus himself, and as a result immediately accepted the teachings of the first Christian disciple to arrive at Edessa, the preacher Addai. The story is also given in the "Doctrine of Addai", which claims that the conversion involved, among others, Jewish silk merchants. The story is a Christian invention. The with Edessa and refers to it, together with Ctesiphon and Nisibis, as one of the three Babylonian cities ruled by Nimrod.

The Edessa chronicles mention an order issued by the emperor in 411, to erect a convent on a spot occupied by a synagogue; other reliable sources, however, describe the bishop who was then in office, and was alleged to have built the convent, as a friend of the Jews. The participation of Edessa Jews in the wars between Heraclius I, the Byzantine Emperor, and the Persians (610-42), on the side of the latter, give reason to believe that their number was quite substantial.

For a considerable period after its capture by the Arabs (who renamed it Al-Ruha), the town remained predominantly Christian. Islam, of course, spread in the town, at the expense of Christianity and Judaism. According to Bar- Hebraeus, Muhammed b. Tahir built a mosque in 825 on a site previously occupied by a synagogue. In 1098 the town was taken by the Crusaders and the Jews were expelled. When Imad Al-Din Zengi captured the town in 1144, he settled 300 Jewish families there; and in 1191 when Rabbi Samuel b. Ali, head of the Baghdad academy, addressed a circular letter to the communities in northern Babylonia and Syria, he included the Al- Ruha community among those addressed. Al- Harizi (13th century) also mentions the Jewish community.

Jews continued to live there during the Ottoman rule, when the town's name was pronounced Urfa. In the 17th century, the traveler Pedro de Texeira found many Jews there, and Benjamin II, who visited the town in the middle of the 19th century, told of a community of 150 families, whose cultural standard was so low that only about a third was able to read the prayerbook. Benjamin also gave details of the local legends relating to Biblical figures; the Syriac name of the town, Orhai, for some reason appears always to have been identified with Ur Kasdim (Ur of the Chaldees), and thus the town came to be regarded as the scene of various events in the life of Abraham. Among the sights pointed out to Benjamin II was a cave which was regarded as Abraham's birthplace and the oven into which Nimrod was thrown. These places were venerated by both Jews and Muslims. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the number of Jews in Urfa dwindled steadily; in 1904 there were 322
Jews there, and thereafter their number was further reduced. Many of the town's Jews settled in Jerusalem, where they formed a separate community, that of the "Urfalis". There were no Jews in Urfa in the late 1960s.

Ruwandiz

Rawanduz; Rowanduz; in Arabic: رواندوز‎

District town in the province of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In Ruwandiz there was an ancient Jewish community which suffered a great deal at the hands of cruel governors. During the 17th century the two paytanim Rabbi Isaac b. Moses Chariri and his son R. Phinehas (Pinchas), who wrote several piyyutim and kabbalistic works, lived there. The situation of the Jews improved to some extent at the beginning of the 19th century with the Turkish occupation. In 1848 Benjamin ii found a number of wealthy Jews led by the Nasi Muallim Nissim, who owned fields and vineyards. The Jews were engaged in agriculture and they spoke Jebel ("mountain") Aramaic. In 1881 there were about 50 to 60 Jewish families; from 1884 to 1906, 120 Jews; in 1910, 40 families; and in 1914, 100 Jews. The penetration of the Russians into Kurdistan in 1915 liquidated this community. The synagogue was destroyed together with its sifrei torah. The community was renewed after World War I.

According to the official census of 1930, there were 17,787 inhabitants in the whole district of Kuwandiz, of whom 250 were Jews. In 1932 there were 20 Jewish families with a synagogue. All emigrated to the State of Israel.

Mardin

A town in Turkish Kurdistan, south east Turkey.

A Jewish community existed in Mardin from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.

In 1291 Abinadab b. Saadiah Halevi of Mardin copied Maimonides' Moreh Nevukhim (Guide of the Perplexed) in Arabic.

During the middle of the 14th century, a Jew of Mardin named Najib Al-Dawla Abraham b. Yeshu'ah held a government position.

At the beginning of the 19th century the number of Jews was small, but an ancient synagogue and holy places, such as the so-called cave of the Prophet Elijah, were preserved.

In 1827 the traveler David d'Beth Hillel found in the town "about six locally born, poor Jewish families with a small synagogue." Benjamin II relates that in 1848 there were 50 Jewish families, most of whom worked on the land. They spoke Hebrew and their leader was the Nasi Mu'allim Moses.

The number of families remained unchanged during the second half of the 19th century, but the community was dispersed during the 20th century.

Antakia

In Jewish sources Antiochia

City on the lower Orontes, Turkey. Syria in the past.

Antioch was founded by Seleucus Nicator in 300 B.C.E. and became the capital of the Seleucid Empire. In antiquity Antioch was an important Jewish center, and from its foundation full rights were bestowed upon the Jews. When the inhabitants rebelled against Demetrius II in 142 B.C.E., the soldiers of Jonathan the Hasmonean were sent to quell the revolt and set the city in flames. There must have been a considerable number of Jews in Antioch by the second century B.C.E. Josephus praises the beauty of its great synagogue, and there were doubtless a number of other places of worship. Antioch had no special Jewish quarter as had Alexandria, Jews being apparently dispersed throughout the city. Hannah and her seven sons are said to have been buried in Antioch and it is possible that the martyrdom recounted in the second and fourth books of the Maccabees occurred in Antioch; IV Maccabees could in fact be, in essence, the oration of a Jew of Antioch in memory of these martyrs. The Christians too, later honored the martyrs' grave, which, according to them, was situated in the Kerataion quarter, near the synagogue. The franchise of the Jews in Antioch was engraved on bronze tablets set up in a public place in the city. During the Roman period the Jewish population grew and was augmented by many proselytes. After the Roman War of 66-70 the inhabitants of Antioch asked Titus to expel the Jews from the city, and to destroy the tablets on which the Jewish privileges were inscribed, but he refused. Nevertheless, according to later chroniclers, the Romans erected a splendid memorial to celebrate their victory and set up the cherubim taken from the Temple in Jerusalem on one of the western gateways of the city, which was consequently called The Gate of the Cherubim. This, however, appears to be a late legend. The Jewish community of Antioch maintained permanent commercial ties with Palestine and took an interest in the spiritual life of their coreligionists there.
In the second century, Abba Judah of Antioch contributed liberally to the maintenance of the Palestinian scholars, many of whom visited Antioch.

Antioch played an important role in the history of Christianity. Here for the first time, in the days of the Apostles, the members of the new faith were called Christians (Messianists). The first Christians were, of course, Jews, but already in the days of Paul, pagans also joined their ranks. Barnabas visited Antioch, where he dwelt together with Paul. When the Apostle Peter came to Antioch he ate with the pagans, but when messengers arrived from James, the brother of Jesus, who was a Nazarene, Peter felt ashamed and withdrew from the pagan society, Barnabas following suit. According to a tradition of the church fathers, Peter headed the Christian church of Antioch for seven years.

Antioch became a center of Christian learning and the Antiochian school of theology, which flourished in the third and fourth centuries C.E., was particularly renowned. Unlike the school of Caesarea, which interpreted the Bible allegorically and in accordance with speculative philosophy, the Antiochian school expounded the scriptures in conformity with their historical and literal meaning. The biblical commentaries composed by this school in the fourth and fifth centuries C.E. Are of great importance. In Antioch, various means were used to counteract the great influence which the Jews had upon the local Christians. The Synod of Antioch (341) forbade the Christians to celebrate Easter when the Jews were observing Passover, and John Chrysostom of Antioch, in his six sermons (c. 366-387), vituperatively denounced those Christians in Antioch who attended synagogues and resorted to the Jewish law courts.

When Christianity became the state religion, the position of the Jews of Antioch deteriorated. The Jews of Imnestar, near Antioch, were accused of having crucified a Christian boy on the feast of Purim, and the Antiochian Christians destroyed the synagogue (423 C.E.). When the Emperor Theodosius II restored the building, he was rebuked by Simon Stylites, and refrained from defending the Jews. In the brawls between the sport factions known as the blues and the greens, many Jews were killed.

When the Persians threatened the Byzantine Empire, Emperor Phocas attempted to force the Jews of Antioch to convert to Christianity. In revenge the Antiochian Jews are alleged to have attacked the Christians (608 C.E.) and killed the patriarch Anastasius. When the rebellion was suppressed, many Jews were slain or exiled. From this date on there is little further information about the Jews of Antioch.

Benjamin of Tudela (c. 1171) found only about ten Jewish families there, most of whom were glass manufacturers. Under Ottoman rule (1516-1918) there was always a Jewish community in Antioch, and by the middle of the 18th century there were 40 Jewish families and several rabbis in residence. The community followed the Sephardi rite. However, when the English traveler A. Buckingham visited Antioch around 1816 he found only 20 Jewish families, who met for prayers in a private house on the Sabbath, although by 1894 there were three to four hundred Jews living there.

In 1928 there was no rabbi and only 100 Jews. Most of the community had left by the early 1950's, only a handful remaining.

Aydin

In Turkish: Aydın; formerly known as Güzel Hissar or Güsel Hissar. 

Capital city of Aydin province, western Turkey.

There was a Jewish community in Aydin (then called Tralles) from the Roman era until the Ottoman period.

At the beginning of the 20th century the community numbered approximately 3,000. The community was led by a rabbi, who together with a number of the community members formed a communal council. The community had three synagogues, a hospital, charitable institutions, a Talmud Torah, and a Yeshivah. In 1894 an Alliance Israelite Universelle school for boys was founded, and another one for girls was founded in 1904.

The Jews were primarily engaged in import and export trade.

The Jewish community gradually declined after World War I, mainly because of the Greek invasion of western Turkey. Some of the Jews moved to Smyrna (Izmir), others to Rhodes, and about 200 families to South America. The Shalom synagogue of Izmir is believed to have been established in 1500 by Jews who arrived from Aydin. It was burnt in the big fire of 1772 and opened again in 1800.  

The community ceased to exist during the 20th century.

Yevpatoriya
 

in Jewish sources the Tatar name is: Göslöw (Koslov)

Yiddish: Yevpatoriya

Ukrainian: Євпаторія (Yevpatoriya)

Russian: Евпатория (Yevpatoriya)

Turkish, Tatar: Kezlev

German: Jewpatorija and Euvpatoria

 

City on the western shore of the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea, Ukraine.

 

21st Century

Vital records for the Jewish population of the city for 1863-1917 exist. The Yadah – In Unum (Hebrew resp. Latin: together) organization compiled at the beginning of the 2000s documentation of Jews from Yevpatoriya perpetrated in the Holocaust. The sources are German and Soviet in the form of films, photos and pictures.

The city of Yevpatoriya has a Karaite prayer house and museum. Earliest Karaites lived in Crimea as early as the last decades of the 13th century. Gravestones of Karaites can be found notably in Crimea, though also in other locations of the Ukraine.

Communal property such as a synagogue in Crimean Yevpatoriya, appropriated under USSR rule, was handed back to the local Progressive Jewish community in 2005. In the early 2010s vandalism was excercised against a Yevpatoriya synagogue.

The Yegiya Kapay synagogue once revived, has served as religious and cultural center. It also hosts as location for music festivals.

 

Prominent Figures

Several Lutski family members were associated with the city of Yevpatoriya. Elected hazzan (cantor) of the Yevpatoriya community beginning of the 19th century, the Karaite author Yosef Shlomo ben Moshe Lutski (1777-1844) published Tirat Kesef, a supercommentary of the Sefer Ha-Mivhar (1835). Some of his prayers and religious hymns were included to the Karaite prayer book.

Sefer Ha-Mivhar itself was written at the end of the 13th century by the famous Karaite Bible scholar Aaron b. Joseph. Soon after, around the mid 14th century, the Karaites saw an intellectual decline in the Byzantine empire. It was the local Rabbanites who brought about an awakening of the intellect. Set in the days of social and political flourishing with the Turkish victories of the time and heightened Jewish immigration, Rabbinic Turkish-Jewish leaders brought about a revival.

A further Lutski, son of Yosef Shlomo, the Karaite Avraham ben Yosef Shelomo (1792-1855) was sent to Constantinople in the service of a Karaite merchant. He learnt several languages and studied Rabbinic works. Returning to Yevpatoriya he opened a school in 844 from where numerous prominent Karaite Crimean community members arose.

 

History


A large Jewish community existed there under Tatar rule from the 15th to 18th centuries. The Russian conquest at the end of the 18th century caused much suffering to the Yevpatoriya community, many of whom fled to Turkey. At the time of the Russian annexation of Crimea there remained approximately 100 Karaite families and a few Rabbanites (Tatar-speaking Krimchaks).

During the 19th century the Karaite community in Yevpatoriya became the largest in Russia and the spiritual center of the Karaites. The chief Karaite chakham of Russia had his seat in Yevpatoriya. His status as leader of the community was recognized by the Russian government in 1837. A Hebrew Karaite press, Goslow Press was established there in the 1830s and functioned until the 1860s. Abraham Firkovich published the works of the early Karaites there. A school for cantors, headed by the Karaite Hebrew author Elijah Kazaz, was established in 1894. There was a magnificent Karaite synagogue in Yevpatoriya, and the community had a museum and library containing many rare manuscripts and books. In 1897 the community numbered 1,592 Rabbanites mainly of Lithuanian or Ukrainian origin and 1,525 Karaites (together forming 18% of the total population).

There were pogroms in Yevpatoriya in 1905. After the 1917 revolution, the last Karaite chakham moved to Constantinople. The Jewish population both Rabbanite and Karaite numbered 2,409 in 1926 (10.6% of the total). Toward the end of the 1920s several Jewish agricultural settlements were established northeast of Yevpatoriya. After Crimea was occupied by the Germans, at the end of 1941, the Rabbanite Jews in Yevpatoriya were murdered, but the Karaites escaped, not being regarded as Jews.

 

Postwar

The largest Jewish population of the Crimea Peninsula was located in Simferopol in 1970 with around 15,000 Jews. Yevpatoriya had a Jewish population of between 8000-10,000.

Didymoteikhon

Greek: Διδυμότειχο

A town near the Turkish border, northeastern Greece.

HISTORY

Inscriptions on graves indicate that Didymotikhon was home to a local Jewish community in 1542. During that period, Didymotikhon’s Jewish community was considered to be the largest in region of Thrace.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were 900 Jews living in Didymotikhon out of a total population of 12,000. Community institutions during this period included a Jewish school, a synagogue, a Zionist youth organization, and cultural circles. The community was eventually granted an autonomous judicial status, and its activities were subsidized by the Greek government.

Most of the town’s Jews worked in commerce, particularly in cereals, silk, wool and food. The majority of the local Jews were stable economically, with only a few poor people.

On the eve of World War II (1939-1945) there were 1,000 Jews living in Didymoteikhon.


THE HOLOCAUST

The Germans conquered the area in April 1941. Shortly afterwards, the Jews were conscripted for forced labor, and their property was looted.

From the beginning, rumors circulated about Jews being sent eastward to concentration camps. The Logotothopolis, the head of the Greek government, appealed to the German ambassador in Athens, but to no avail. In May 1943 Jews were sent by train to Saloniki, and concentrated in the Hirsch camp. The Jews of Saloniki provided the camp’s inmates with food, with the help of the Red Cross. A few Jews managed to flee to Turkey.

In May 1943 approximately 970 Jews were transferred from the Hirsch camp to Birkenau and Auschwitz.

 

POSTWAR

In 1948 Didymoteikhon’s Jewish population was 38. By 1967 that number had declined to 21.