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Yanbol Synagogue, Balat, Istanbul

(199 words)

Author(s): Naim Güleryüz
Named after its founders’ place of origin, the Yanbol Synagogue was founded by Jews who migrated from the town of Yanbol (Bulg. Yambol) in Bulgaria and settled in Balat. A firman dated May 21, 1693, as well as ancient buildings in the synagogue’s courtyard, imply that the synagogue was in existence during the Byzantine period. It has been in continuous daily use for more than five centuries. The Yanbol Synagogue is built of brick and has been repaired many times. The ceiling of the main building is embellished with oil paintings on subjects drawn from nature. The ehal (Heb. hekhal, ark) has d…

Torel, Rafael

(281 words)

Author(s): Naim Güleryüz
Rafael Fresco Torel was born in Istanbul in 1915. His father died when he was five years old, and the family lost all their property and belongings during the great fire of Dağhamam (1921), which destroyed the quarter they lived in. Rafael attended the Alliance Israélite Universelle school at Dağhamam and then the B’nai B’rith High School. At the age of ten, Torel began working during summer vacations to supplement the family’s income. After holding various temporary jobs, he was hired as a clerk in the packaging department of the Gişlaved Gummi rubber plant owned by Isaac Kohen. Years lat…

Altabev, Samuel

(227 words)

Author(s): Naim Güleryüz
Samuel Altabev was secretary general of the chief rabbinate of Turkey from 1909 to 1938. Born in Gallipoli in 1862, he taught French at the Alliance Israélite Universelle schools in Galata and Balat in Istanbul for about twenty-five years. He was also well versed in Hebrew and Talmud, and was often sought to deliver sermons and lectures in synagogues and communal organizations. An important community activist, in 1898 he was one of the chief supporters of the founding of the Or Ahayim Jewish Hospital in the Balat quarter of Istanbul. In 1909, Chief Rabbi Haïm Nahoum appointed him secre…

Italian Synagogue, Galata, Istanbul

(317 words)

Author(s): Naim Güleryüz
In 1862, following long-standing disputes within the Jewish community, a group of Sephardi Jews of Italian origins and connections broke away from the main body of the Sephardi community of Istanbul. They organized a new congregation and placed themselves under the protection of the king of Italy (see Protégés). Subsequently, this new group called itself the Comunità Israelitico-Straniera di Rito Spagnuolo-Portoghese di Constantinopoli (Community of Foreign Jews of the Spanish-Portuguese Rite of Istanbul). In the 1880s, they founded a new synagogue o…

Matan Baseter Barinyurt (Social Aid Society)

(337 words)

Author(s): Naim Güleryüz
Matan Baseter Barinyurt, a social aid society of the Turkish Jewish community, sponsors the Barinyurt shelterin Istanbul. The Matan Baseter society was founded in Edirne in the early twentieth century. Migrants from Edirne reestablished it in Istanbul in 1928 under the auspices of the Galata-Pera Congregation. In this early manifestation, the society provided charity in secret to those in need, the confidentiality of its philanthropy intended to obviate any discomfiture to recipients. In 1949 Daniel Behar reorganized Matan Baseter to coordinate its activities with Bikur Holim, …