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Tuna (Danube) Province

(800 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Tuna (Danube) vilayet (province) was organized in 1864 as part of the Ottoman administrative reforms during the Tanzimat era. It comprised the old provinces (eyalets) of Silistre, Vidin, and Nish. The new province was subdivided into seven sancaks (districts), namely Nish, Ruse (Rousse, Rusčuk), Sofia (Sophia), Tarnovo, Tulcea, Varna, and Vidin, and they in turn were subdivided into forty-eight kazas (boroughs) and about ten nahiyes (subdistricts). The capital of the province was the city of Ruse. The primary goal of establishing the Tuna vilayet was to improve the provinci…

Nahoum (Nahum), Haim (Ḥayyim)

(887 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Haim Nahoum (Ḥayyim Nahum) was born in 1873 in Manisa, Turkey. In 1881, he moved to Tiberias with his grandfather and studied at a yeshiva where he learned the Talmud in Hebrew and the Qurʾān in Arabic. In 1886, after completing his studies in Tiberias, he returned to Manisa, where he mastered Turkish and French. Later, he enrolled at the Mekteb-i Sultani, a government lycée  in Izmir (Smyrna), and then at the Imperial School of Law in Istanbul, where he studied Islamic law and diplomacy. In 189…

Gerush Synagogue, Bursa

(206 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The  Gerush (Heb. exile) Synagogue in the Turkish city of Bursa (Prusa) was built in the early sixteenth century by Jewish exiles from Spain. The synagogue is located on Arap Şükrü Street, near Sakarya Boulevard. It has a seating capacity of 100 to 150 people. Its strong and well-maintained structure suggests that the synagogue was most likely restored after the shattering earthquake of 1855. An inscription next to the prayer hall of the synagogue is dated to the year 5632 (1872), possibly the ti…

Altıntaş, Yusuf

(297 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Yusuf Altıntaş, born in Istanbul in 1945, is the influential private civil secretary of the chief rabbinate in Turkey. Altıntaş attended the rabbinic seminary in Hasköy for his high school education. Subsequently, he went to the Grafik Hochschule in Stuttgart, Germany, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts in 1967. After five years in Germany, Altıntaş moved to Florence, Italy, where he completed his higher education in typography by interning at Ciuli Imballaggi SPA. Upon his return to Istanbul, Altıntaş started his own printing and packaging company, and was it…

Guéron, Angèle

(389 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Angèle Guéron  was born in 1886 in Istanbul. She was educated at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school in Istanbul and then at the AIU teachers college, the Ecole Normale Israélite Orientale, in Paris, from which she graduated in 1904. The following year she was appointed to the Alliance school in Tunis as an instructor, and later she also taught for a time at the Alliance school in Istanbul. The Alliance regarded Guéron as a highly promising educator. In 1907, at the age of twenty-one, she was appointed director of the Alliance school for girls in Haifa, and two years later, in 1909, direct…

Camondo, Abraham de

(659 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Abraham Salomon de Camondo (Kamondo)a member of the prominent Sephardi Camondo family, was born in Istanbul in 1785. In the late 1830s he emerged as an important leader of Ottoman Jewry and played an essential role in modernizing the Turkish Jewish community. Camondo wielded significant influence in ruling circles, especially at the courts of sultans Abdülmecid I (r. 1839-1861) and Abdülaziz (r. 1861-1876). He was instrumental in the appointment of the first chief rabbi in Jerusalem in 1841. He also worke…

Kohen, Albert

(410 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Albert Kohen, born in Hasköy, Istanbul in 1885, was a prominent Turkish writer, intellectual, and communal leader. He studied at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school and upon graduation  worked in the Istanbul branch of the Banque de Salonique, of which he had become vice president by the time he retired in 1947. Throughout his life, Kohen was passionately interested in journalism. He began working at the weekly El Telegrafo in 1922, and then at the newspaper La Boz de Oriente in 1931. In 1939, he founded the biweekly La Boz de Türkiye, which was usually printed in Ladino, and of…

Atilhan, Cevat Rıfat

(396 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Cevat Rifat Atilhan (1892–1967), a well-known antisemitic Turkish writer, journalist, and Nazi sympathizer, was born in Istanbul and completed his high school education at the Kuleli Askeri Lisesi (Kuleli Military High School) there. Subsequently, he attended the Harbiye Military Academy. Graduating in 1912, he fought in the Balkan Wars, World War I, and Turkey’s War of Independence (1919–1922). In 1920, in recognition of his military prowess, he was appointed milis general (general of the militias) by the Turkish Grand National Assembly.             Atilhan resigned from th…

Hubeş, Rozet

(320 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Rozet Hubeş, born in Istanbul in 1959, is a Turkish Jewish actress. After graduating from the Lycée Saint Benoît d’Istanbul, she studied French language and literature in the School of Literature of Istanbul University, and theater at the Municipal Conservatory of Istanbul. In addition to her performances onstage in public and private theater, Hubeş does voice-overs and performs in cinema, television, and documentaries. She is affiliated with City Theatres of Istanbul. In 2005, the Afife Tiyatro Ödülleri (Afife Theatre Awards) organized by Yapı Kredi Sigorta (Yapı…

Capsali, Moses ben Elijah

(577 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Moses ben Elijah Capsaliwas born in Candia (Heraklion), Crete, in 1420. Like his relative Elijah Capsali, Moses left Crete at a young age to further his education. He went to Germany, where he studied with major Ashkenazi rabbis such as Jacob Landau and Judah Mintz. Throughout his life, Capsali’s writings and actions were heavily influenced by his German-Ashkenazi background, even though he himself was a Romaniot. Some sources indicate that he also studied in Italy. Capsali became the leader of the Romaniot congregation of Constantinople around 1445.According to some a…

Algazi Synagogue, Izmir

(184 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Algazi synagogue, known as the Kal de Ariva (Upper Synagogue) in Judeo-Spanish, is one of several synagogues in Izmir (Smyrna). It was built in 1724 by the Algazi family, which produced several distinguished rabbis and cantors. There is a well in the synagogue’s open courtyard. Inside the building is preserved the armchair of Ḥayyim Pallache, the famous chief rabbi of Izmir (1855–1869), who used to pray there. The synagogue also has a large basement that was once used by the ʿasara baṭlanim (Heb. ten gentlemen of leisure) who assembled there to engage in full-time prayer …

Shumla (Shumen)

(461 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Shumla (Ott. Turk. Shumla and Shumnu; Bulg. Shumen, renamed Kolarovgrad from 1950 to 1965), is an ancient city in northeastern Bulgaria. Conquered by Sultan Murad I (r. ca. 1360–1389) in 1388, Shumla was destroyed completely in 1444 and a new town with the same name was constructed in its present location. Because of its close proximity to Russia, the city was frequently attacked by the Russians and thus had to be fortified. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the Ottomans transformed Shumla into a military center, which created many jobs and attracted migrants from other are…

Masliah (Mazliyah, Matzliyah), Nissim

(484 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Nissim Masliah (Mazliyah) was born in 1877 in Manisa, Turkey. After graduating from the Alliance Israélite Universelle school there, he studied law and practiced as an attorney in Salonica. He was also a member of the Commercial Tribunal of Salonica and professor of administrative law and capitulations at the Salonica police academy, and, in addition, an informal legal adviser to Hüseyin Hilmi Pasha, the inspector general of Macedonia. Reputedly a member and secretary of the Committee of Union a…

Edirne (Adrianople)

(3,043 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
1.    Brief History of Edirne Edirne (Adrianople) is an ancient city in northwestern Turkey (Thrace), neighboring Greece and Bulgaria. In 2000, its population was 119,316. Throughout its long history, Edirne’s strategic location led to intense competition to control it. The city was ruled by several different nations and finally was captured by the Ottomans in 1361. From 1365 until the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Edirne was the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The Sublime Porte used the city as a E…

Kaneti, Selim

(350 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Selim Kaneti (1934–1992) was a renowned Turkish professor of civil law. Born in Istanbul in 1934, he graduated from the Lycée Saint Benoît d’Istanbul and subsequently attended the Istanbul University Faculty of Law. In 1972, he obtained his doctorate from Istanbul University and became a professor of civil law at the Istanbul University Faculty of Law. In 1984, he was appointed head of the Finance and Economics Department and the Tax Law Subdivision at Istanbul University Faculty of Law. He served in these positions until …

Aciman, Avram

(205 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Avram Aciman (fl. second half of the nineteenth century) was born in Istanbul into the distinguished Aciman (Adjiman) family of Ottoman Sephardim. He was one of the four  Jewish members of the first Ottoman Parliament, convened from 1877 to 1878. Representing Istanbul, he was the only Jewish deputy who actively participated in the proceedings of the first session. He supported the general opposition in the chamber against the high-handed bureaucratic order and proposed a legislative amendment requiring provincial officials…

Beth Israel Synagogue (Şişli, Istanbul)

(262 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Beth Israel Synagogue, located on Efe Street, Şişli, is one of several synagogues in Istanbul. The building was erected in the 1920s and was originally used partly as a synagogue and partly as an auto repair garage. The part that was used as a synagogue and two nearby houses were bought in 1947 in order to enlarge the synagogue. With the supervision of contractor Aram Deragobyan and architect Jak Pardo, construction began in 1952 and the synagogue was named the Beth Israel Synagogue.             Unlike most other synagogues in Istanbul, Beth Israel has no historical or arti…

Etz Ahayim Synagogue, Bursa

(149 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Etz Ahayim (Heb. ʿEṣ ha-Ḥayyim), a Romaniot synagogue no longer in existence, was one of the three synagogues in Bursa. It was the first Jewish house of worship ever built in the Ottoman state. Construction began after permission was granted by the second sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Orhan Bey, in the mid-fourteenth century. Structurally the synagogue resembled a mosque and had Ottoman architectural features. Etz Ahayim continued in active use until the early fifteenth century. The remains of the building were destroyed by a fire that broke out in 1940.       The other two synagogues…

Bet Din (Turkish Republic)

(411 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
After the proclamation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the Jewish community of Turkey ceased to have a separate legal council and the responsibilities of its bet din were strictly limited to religious matters. The chief rabbinate and the bet din, which formerly had dealt with legal issues in addition to religious issues, no longer acted as the community’s civil court.    The Turkish bet din has changed in many ways since its inception in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Initially it consisted of a panel of three rabbinic judges who judged unlawful ac…

Arié, Gabriel

(500 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Gabriel Arié was born into a Sephardi family in Samokov, a small town in Ottoman Bulgaria, in 1863. His family were Spanish refugees who had settled in Vienna before immigrating to Bulgaria in the late eighteenth century. After receiving a traditional Jewish education, Arié studied at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school in Samokov and then in Istanbul. In 1878, he enrolled in the teacher-training program at the Ecole Normale Israélite Orientale (ENIO) in Paris. While attending ENIO, Arié established good…

Bejerano (Becerano), Bekhor Hayyim

(466 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Bekhor Ḥayyim Moşe Bejerano, born in Eski Zagra (now Stara Zagora), Bulgaria, in 1846, was a respected scholar and the chief rabbi of the Turkish Republic from 1920 to 1931. From a very early age, he was educated in traditional Talmud Torahs and yeshivas. He also studied foreign languages and many other secular subjects, and ultimately became fluent in more than fifteen languages.             In 1880, Bejerano moved to Ottoman-ruled Rusçuk (Ruse), Bulgaria, where the students he taught included a future historian of Ottoman Jewry, Solomon Rosanes. Bejerano …

Benbanaste, Nesim

(277 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Nesim Benbanaste (1939—1992) was a prominent Turkish Jewish writer and intellectual. After completing his high school education at Beyoğlu Musevi Lisesi (Beyoğlu Jewish Lycée) in Istanbul, Benbanaste attended the Faculty of Law of Istanbul University. He later worked at several private schools as a teacher and director. He was affiliated with one of Turkey’s oldest publishing association, the Türk Basın Birliği (Turkish Press Union).             From 1963 until his death, Benbanaste wrote numerous articles, essays, poems, and translations. An admirer of Atat…

Ocak Bazirgani

(472 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The post of ocak bazirgâni (corps merchant), also called ocak sarrafi (corps banker), was an important official position dominated by Jews in the Ottoman Empire. The ocak bazirgâni acted as chief purveyor and financier of the Janissary corps, a major element of the Ottoman army, providing all essential supplies, including cloth and uniforms, often made by Jewish textile manufacturers. The incumbent was, in the words of Bernard Lewis, “a kind of private enterprise quartermaster.” Like many other influential offices in the Ottoman Empire, that of ocak bazirgâni became hereditary an…

Franco, Moïse

(423 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Moïse (also Moïses) Franco was a longtime educator and school director in the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) network of schools and a writer of textbooks, newspaper articles, and a popular history of Ottoman Jewry. He was born in Istanbul in 1864 to parents who were Austrian subjects. After completing his elementary education, Franco attended the École Normale Israélite Orientale in Paris and thereafter returned to the Levant to serve as a teacher in Edirne (Adrianople). In 1897, he founded the Alliance school in Safed, Palestine, despite the opposition of the local r…

Romano, Marco

(218 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Marco Romano, born in *Plovdiv (Filibe) in 1872, was a Bulgarian publisher, lawyer, and Zionist leader. He was exposed to Jewish studies and Zionism at a very young age. In 1898, he attended the first Zionist convention in Plovdiv , where he argued against the Alliance Israélite Universelle schools on the grounds that they did not represent the ideal Jewish national character. His lobbying led to the replacement of many of the teachers in the Alliance schools of Bulgaria with more traditional Hebrew educators.             Romano was the Bulgarian representative at several Zioni…

Ovadya, Silvyo

(239 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Silvyo Ovadya,  the leader of the Jewish community in Turkey since 2004, was born in Istanbul in 1955. Since 1971, he has worked for Jewish youth clubs, the Or-Ahayim Hospital, the Hahambaşılık (chief rabbinate), and most importantly the Şalom newspaper, as its publishing coordinator for twelve years and its administrative head for nineteen years. Ovadya attended the Lycée Français Privée Saint-Benoît, a missionary school in Istanbul, and received his bachelor’s degree from Istanbul Teknik Üniversitesi (ITÜ) in electronics and communications engineering. He began hi…

Brudo, Berta

(163 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Berta Bensusen Özgün Brudo (1926—2008) was a famous Turkish poet. She was born in Çanakkale, but moved to Istanbul to attend the Işık Lisesi (IstanbulIşıkHigh School) there. Upon graduation she worked at Şark Sigorta (Şark Insurance) for several years. In addition to her poetry, she wrote articles, composed music, and drew caricatures.             Brudo’s books of poetry include Berta’nın Şiirleri (Berta’s Poems; 1986) and Beşyüz Yılın Destanı (Epic of 500 Years, 1991). She also wrote a memoir entitled Yedi Nesil Öncesinden Günümüze Yolculuk (A Journey from Seven Generations …

Levi, Davishon (Davichon Levy)

(200 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Davishon Levi (Davichon Levy), from the city of Ioannina (Janina) in Epirus, was one of the six Jewish deputies in the Ottoman parliament during its second term from 1877 to 1878 (the others were Menahem Salah from Baghdad, Avram from Salonica, Yaver Disraeli and Salamon from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Samuel Molho from Istanbul). During his parliamentary service, Levi  demonstrated great expertise in economics and fiscal policy.  He frequently called attention to the Ottoman government’s wasteful spending and rising debts, attacked some of its policies as irres…

Pleven (Plevna)

(281 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Pleven (Plevna) is an ancient city in northern Bulgaria. Historical accounts suggest that a Jewish community existed in the city in the Byzantine period. The town accommodated Jewish refugees expelled from Hungary in 1376. In the fifteenth century, Ottoman-ruled Pleven became a popular destination for Jewish refugees from Wallachia, Bavaria, and Spain. In addition, following the Ottoman conquest of Hungary in 1526, many Hungarian Jews flocked to Pleven. The 1579 census listed 209 Jewish households (out of a total of 991 households), mainly Ashkenazi, Hungarian, and Sephardi Jews,…

Russo, Nissim

(281 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Nissim Russo was born in Salonica in the late nineteenth century. He was one of the few Turkish Jews to participate in politics around the beginning of the twentieth century, serving as an undersecretary in the Ministry of Finance and as a member of the Ottoman parliament. Throughout his political career, Russo lobbied the Turkish government to support Zionism. In addition, he was a member of the Committee of Union and Progress and one of the early leaders (possibly even a co-founder) of the Young Turk movement. Russo was an active participant in the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. In add…

Ashkenazi Synagogue, Galata, Istanbul

(203 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Ashkenazi Synagogue, also called the Yüksekkaldırım Ashkenazi Synagogue, is located near the Galata Tower in Istanbul. The synagogue was inaugurated in September 1900, following an edict granting permission to build it by Sultan Abdülhamid II. Construction was funded by Ashkenazi Jews of Austro-Hungarian origins, led by donor named Hermann Goldenberg. The architect of the synagogue was G. J. Cornaro from Venice. A carving master of the period, Fogelstern, carved the wooden sanctuary and the altar. The synagogue has a European-style facade displaying an exter…

Nadi, Yunus

(442 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Yunus Nadi Abalıoğlu (1945) was an influential Turkish journalist, publisher, and politician. Born in 1879 in the town of Fethiye in the province of Muğla, he attended the Medrese-i Süleymaniye in Rhodes and later transferred to the Galatasaray Lisesi (Galatasaray High School) in Istanbul. Subsequently, he attended Istanbul University and obtained a degree in law.             Nadi began his journalistic career in 1900 at the newspaper Malumat. In 1901, he was sentenced to three years in prison for his alleged connection with an anti-government organization. In…

Razon, Norma

(291 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Norma Razon, born in Istanbul in 1946, is a renowned Turkish child psychologist and pedagogical expert. She graduated from the Lycée Notre Dame de Sion in Harbiye, Istanbul, in 1964, and then enrolled in the Pedagogy Department of Istanbul University, graduating in 1968. She continued doing pedagogical research at the university, obtaining her doctorate and later her professorship in 1972 and 1988, respectively, and was a member of the faculty of Istanbul University until 1997.             In addition to lecturing at Istanbul University, Razon participated in seminars …

Hahamhane Nizamnamesi (General Regulations of the Rabbinate)

(783 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
In July 1863, in furtherance of the Ottoman Tanzimat reforms, Fuad Pasha, the grand vizier, ordered the acting chief rabbi of Istanbul, Yakir Geron, to embark on a process of restructuring the Jewish community and the rabbinate. Geron organized a committee for this purpose. Led by the influential philanthropist Abraham de Camondo and consisting of fourteen regional representatives from Istanbul, the committee selected twelve lay administrators and four rabbis to formulate a reform statute. Their proposals were presented to Sultan Abdüleziz in …

Societies, Social Organizations (Modern Turkish)

(1,142 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Despite its relatively small (and shrinking) Jewish population of about twenty thousand, there are many Jewish  societies and social organizations in modern Turkey. Jewish societies and organizations first began to appear in many Ottoman localities in the 1880s. Today they are mostly concentrated in Istanbul and are supervised by the chief rabbinate of Turkey. They include several foundations, the community’s school and newspaper, charitable and welfare societies, and social clubs. The most prominent Jewish organization in Istanbul is the Neve Shalom Foundation. It is resp…

Silistre (Silistria)

(480 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Silistre (Silistra, Silistria) is an ancient border town in northeastern Bulgaria. After the Ottoman conquest of the region in 1396, Silistre was transformed into a military and trade center. Due to its proximity to the Russian border, it regularly suffered attacks from this direction, particularly in the eighteenth century and afterward. In 1829 Silistre was briefly occupied by the Russians. During the Crimean War (1853–1856), the town was again besieged by the Russians in 1854. The Turkish defense of Silistre was one of the war’s famous events; the excep…

Or Ahayim Hospital, Istanbul

(347 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Or-Ahayim (Heb. Or ha-Ḥayyim, Light of Life) Hospital in Balat, Istanbul, opened in 1887. It was originally an institution for needy Jews but now serves the general public. It was founded by idealistic doctors and philanthropists led by Dr. Captain Rafael Bey Dalmediko. Other members of the founding group included Dr. Avramino de Castro, Abraham Gerson, Admiral Dr. İzak Molho Paşa (the inspector general of the Ottoman fleet, later vice-admiral, d. 1920), Jakob Habib, the banker Jozef Halfon, Robert Levi, Yuda Levi Kebapçıoğlu, Samuel Rizzo, Elia Suhami Rafael Levi, Dr. İzidor Grayver…

Chana (Ciana) Synagogue

(162 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Chana (Çana, Ciana) Synagogue in theBalat quarter of Istanbulwas used in Byzantine times by Romaniot Jews from the Macedonian town of Tzyana. Some architects believe that the building was originally planned as a han, or commercial building, before becoming a synagogue. In 1663, Sephardi Jews took over the synagogue. Until 1908, it served also as the seat of a bet din (rabbinical court). For some time, the basement was used as a Jewish community prison. The synagogue building housed numerous Jewish refugees during the Turkish War of Independence (1919–…

Yahya, Nedim

(324 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Nedim Nessim Yahya, born in Istanbul in 1925, was a Turkish businessman, industrialist, and leader of the Jewish community. He graduated from the Jewish High School in Istanbul in 1943 and subsequently attended Istanbul Technical University, where he obtained a degree in electrical and mechanical engineering in 1948. Afterwards, Yahya started his own business selling milling machinery. Over the years, he became a successful and highly respected businessman and industrialist.             In the late 1960s, the lay council ( meclis cismani) of Turkey’s chief rabbinate appoint…

Modiano, Albert

(360 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Alberto Modiano, born in Istanbul in 1960, is an internationally known Turkish professional photographer, historian, and educator. Modiano had his first experience with photography at a very early age because his father was a representative of the Italian Bencini cameras. He began his photographic career in 1979 as an amateur while working as an accountant. After gaining some experience, he opened three galleries in Büyükada, joined İFSAK (the Istanbul Amateur Photography and Cinema Association), and became involved in its publishing and research activities betw…

Kohen Erkip, Albert

(287 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Albert Kohen Erkip, born in Ankara in 1953, is a mathematician and professor of mathematics at Sabanci University in Istanbul. He graduated from Ankara Fen Lisesi (Ankara Science High School) in 1970 and subsequently attended the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, where he earned his bachelor of science degree in mathematics in 1974. He went on to the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his master of science and Ph.D. degrees in 1979. Kohen has held teaching and resear…

Bahar, Beki L.

(441 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Beki Luiza Bahar, born in Istanbul in 1927, is a well-known Turkish playwright from Ankara. Bahar and her family moved to Ankara, Turkey’s new capital, in 1937 because of her father’s job. She graduated from TED (Turkish Educational Association) Ankara College and attended law school for a while. She also spent some time in Marseilles with her family before returning to Ankara. Her first article was published in 1958 in the weekly newspaper Haftanın Sesi, her first poem was published in 1959 in the anthology Varlık Yeni Şiirler Antolojisi, and her first short story was published in…

Navaro, Leyla

(311 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Leyla Navaro, born in Istanbul in 1943, is an influential Turkish psychologist and writer. She graduated from Istanbul University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and subsequently attended Boğaziçi (Bosporus) University, where she earned a master’s degree in psychological counseling. Her graduate studies focused on personal growth and development, and individual potential. Additionally, her clinical work emphasized gender-sensitive and group therapies.             Navaro is the founder of Nirengi, an organization that provides psychological counseling an…

Algazi, Yusuf

(268 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Yusuf Algazi, born in Istanbul in 1950, is a renowned Turkish poet. He graduated from the Lycée Saint Benoît in Istanbul and subsequently attended the Galatasaray University School of Chemical Engineering, graduating in 1972.       Algazi pioneered phonetic poetry in Turkey, and his poems reflect his interest both in Judaism and in gender relations. He frequently conducts discussions on Judaism at the Dostluk Youth Club, a Jewish social organization, and has organized “poem days” at the Atatürk Kültür Merkezi (AtatürkCultureCenter) in Istanbul. Algazi’s mo…

Travnik

(361 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The town of Travnik in central Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1463 to 1878. During this period, it accommodated many Jewish refugees, especially in the mid-eighteenth century, and became a major Sephardi Jewish center in the region, second only to Sarajevo. The newly established community built a synagogue in 1768. Jews earned their living as blacksmiths, joiners, saddlers, tailors, shoemakers, distillers, merchants, traders, and, in some instances, by practicing folk medicine. Despite having a generally positive relationship with the city’s …

Ishak Efendi, Hoca

(324 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Hoca İshak Efendi, the renowned Turkish mathematician, scientist, and translator, was born in Arta, Greece, around 1774 and died, either in Suez or Mecca, in 1834. A learned Jew who converted to Islam, Hoca İshak Efendi maintained close relations with the Jewish community of Istanbul throughout his life and supported it. The Jews of Istanbul called him the Rabbi of the Admiralty ( tersane hahamı), the district where the school at which he taught was located. After completing his education in Istanbul,  İshak Efendi became a teacher of mathematics at the Army Engineering Schoo…

Tiryaki

(162 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Tiryaki was a monthly Jewish periodical published in Istanbul by former Şalom writer Moşe Grosman from 1994 to 2000. Printed in Turkish and Ladino, Tiryaki had forty-eight pages and followed the format of Albert Kohen’s popular paper La Boz de Türkiye. Under Grosman’s editorship, Tiryaki focused on opinion and art, and at times criticized Turkish Jewry’s communal administration. In 1998, the popular journal had about a thousand subscribers. It often published writings by influential figures like Yekta Güngör Özden, the former head of Turkey’s constitutional court, the r…

Filiba, Lina

(241 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Lina Filiba, born in Istanbul in 1958, is the executive vice president of the Turkish Jewish community. She graduated from Üsküdar American Academy in Istanbul in 1976, and subsequently attended the Bosphorus University, receiving her degree in computer programming in 1980. Filiba has been an active member of the Turkish Jewish community since her teenage years. She has participated in many volunteer organizations and Jewish cultural activities, including Amicale events and folk dance groups. As a member of the Community Board of Informal Jewish Education she designed Jewi…

Şalom (Shalom), Istanbul

(741 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Şalom ( Shalom) is a weekly newspaper in Istanbul that was founded in 1947 by the journalist Avram Leyon and is now published by Gözlem Gazetecilik Basın ve Yayın. The only paper serving the Jewish community in Turkey, it focuses on news of the Turkish Jewish community, domestic and international affairs, and Jewish culture and traditions. In addition, Şalom has op-ed columns that discuss social and political issues in Turkey and abroad. Şalom’s motto, “ A lo tuerto tuerto, a lo dereço dereço” (Right for the right, crookedness for the crooked), is printed above the masthead of every issue. Af…

Saban, Rafael David

(277 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Rafael David Saban, born in Istanbul in 1873 into the family of a wealthy merchant, began his religious studies at a very early age and was taught by influential rabbis such as Yosef Kohen, Yomtov Kohen, and Konorte Delson. At the age of eighteen, Saban was ordained a rabbi and became the private secretary of the prominent religious leader Moşe Levi. Saban had years of experience in the affairs of the Turkish-Jewish community prior to his appointment to the chief rabbinate in 1953, for over the years he had been a member of several administrative committees, such as the Religious Council, the Is…
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