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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…

Avigdor, Jacob

(249 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Jacob Avigdor (1794(?)–1874), a renowned talmudist, was chief rabbi (Turk. hahambaşi) of Istanbul from 1860 to 1863. He succeeded Ḥayyim ha-Cohen and was instrumental in modernizing the administration of the Ottoman Jewish community. Avigdor and the influential banker Abraham Camondo created a council of Jewish notables, the meclis peqidim, to manage the financial affairs of the Jewish community of Istanbul. In addition, Avigdor sought to unify the old rabbinical courts (Heb. batte din) of Balat and Hasköy, the two main Jewish quarters of Istanbul, by establishing a…

Fresco, Ḥayyim Moshe

(267 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Ḥayyim Moshe Fresco (1780–1850) was the chief rabbi ( hahambaşı) of Istanbul from 1839 to 1841, succeeding Samuel Ḥayyim in that office. On November 3, 1839, as representative of all the Jews in the Ottoman Empire, Fresco attended the official ceremony proclaiming the Hatt-i Sherif ( Hatt-ı Şerif)of Gülhane (Imperial Rescript of Gülhane), which ushered in the Tanzimat reform period. In 1840, at the urging of Sir Moses Montefiore, Fresco published a proclamation in Hebrew and Judeo-Spanish (complete bilingual text in

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…

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 1893, two years after his graduation from the Imperial School of Law, Nahoum enrolled at the rabbinical seminary in Paris, thanks to a scholarship provided by the Alliance Israélite Universelle; he graduated and was ordained rabbi in 1897. During his time in Paris, he also earned a diploma from the religious sciences section of the École Pratique des Hautes Études in 1895 and a diploma from the École Spéciale des Langues Orientales Vivantes a year later. He also became acquainted with several exiled members of the Young Turks mov…

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

Camondo (Kamondo) Family

(565 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Camondo (Kamondo) family was a renowned Jewish family of Spanish-Portuguese origin. Members of the family settled in Istanbul in the seventeenth century after living in Venice for some time. In the eighteenth century the family acquired Austrian citizenship. Its most illustrious member was Abraham Salomon de Camondo (1785–1873), an influential banker, philanthropist, and leader of the Jewish community. During the early nineteenth century, the family established Banque Camondo, also known as I. Camondo & Cie, which extended credit to the Ottoman government d…

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 …

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 April 1864 and w…

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,…

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, i…

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. …

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…

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…

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 …

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 …
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