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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 Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums, vol. 5, 1841, pp. 16–17) ca…

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 189…

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 …

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 alleged connection with an anti-government organization. In…

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 …

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…

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…

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…

Stroumsa, Vitalis

(235 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Vitalis (also Vitali) Stroumsa, born in Salonica at an unknown date in the second half of the nineteenth century, was a prominent Jewish political figure in Salonica and then in Istanbul around the beginning of the twentieth century. He studied at the National School of Agriculture in Montpellier, France, where an essay he wrote on viticulture was published in 1886. Stroumsa later became the director of the École Pratique in Salonica, inspector of agriculture in Salonica and Kosovo, and secretary general of the Financial Commission of Salonica, Kosovo, and Monastir.             Follo…

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…

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 …

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…

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…

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 …

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…

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 …

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…

Eskenazi, Rina

(232 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Sara Rina Eskenazi (b. 1950) is a Turkish academic and writer. She was born in Istanbul in 1950, but she and her family moved to Ankara when she was six. She completed her primary school education and started high school in Ankara. When she was fifteen, the family moved back to Istanbul, where Eskenazi attended the renowned American College for Girls, now known as Robert College. After graduating in 1970, Eskenazi enrolled in the Business Administration Faculty of Boğaziçi (Bosporus) University, where she obtained her B.A. degree in 1975.             Over the next few years Eskenazi…

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…

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…

Keribar, Izzet

(267 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
İzzet Keribar was born in Istanbul in 1936. An enthusiast of photography from an early age, he gained experience and improved his skills in Korea, where he fulfilled his military service in the Turkish army in 1957. After a long interlude, Keribar went back to photography in 1980. Since then, he has traveled widely within and outside Turkey to practice his art. He is an honorary member of the Istanbul Amateur Photography and Cinema Club (İFSAK) and in 1985 and 1988, respectively, was awarded the International Federation of Photography ratings of AFIAP (Artist) an…

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…

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…

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…

Zonana Family

(453 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Zonana family held the position of ocak bazirgâni , merchant-banker of the Janissary corps, for most of the eighteenth century. The first member of the family to occupy this lucrative post was David Zonana (d. 1746), who acquired immense wealth and unprecedented political influence. David established good relations with Seyyid Hasan Pasha, the commander of the Janissary corps, and continued to serve as his personal agent when Seyyid Hasan Pasha was appointed grand vizier in 1743. However, three years later, when Seyyid Hasan Pasha was repla…

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…

Marcus, David

(444 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Dr. David Marcus was an influential Ashkenazi leader in Istanbul. Born in Novgorod, Russia, in 1870, he began his religious studies at the yeshiva in Lomza, Poland. After finishing high school, Marcus attended the University of Bonn in Germany, where he studied psychology, pedagogy, and philosophy, and obtained his doctorate in 1901. His impressive research and studies at the University of Bonn quickly drew the attention of the Jewish community in Germany. In 1900, the Ashkenazi community in Istanbul offered Marcus the position of headmaster of the Jewish Goldschmit Lycée in Galat…

Scialom, Sedat

(267 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Sedat Sami Scialom (1939—2008), a well-known Turkish businessman, was president of the Grafika Maya Reklam Ajansi, a major advertising agency founded by his father. Scialom graduated from the Lycée Saint Michel in Şişli, Istanbul in 1957 and from the Faculty of Economics of Istanbul University in 1961. He then went to Belgium for his higher education, graduating from the École Supérieure Technique de Publicité in 1963.             While studying in Brussels, Scialom worked at Bodden et Dechy, an advertising agency, as a client representative. Later, he moved t…

Gerez, Yosef (Yusef) Habib

(413 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Yosef Habib Gerez (b. 1926) is a Turkish Jewish artist and poet. After graduating from Kabataş Erkek Lisesi, a high school for boys in Istanbul, he studied law at Istanbul University and at the same time attended the Academy of Applied Fine Arts in Istanbul as a guest student. With the encouragement of his teacher, Nurullah Berk, Gerez began to draw and paint. In 1972 he opened the Beyoğlu City Gallery in Istanbul. That same year, his paintings were shown at a gallery in Milan. Later, he became …

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Fernandez, Isaac

(350 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Isaac Fernandez (1889–1929) was born in Salonica. He succeeded his father, Salomon Fernandez, as president of the regional committee of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU), serving in this capacity for many years until World War I. Like his father, he was also a merchant and an engineer. Fernandez was the president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and a member of the board of governors of the Banque de Salonique. In addition, he was vice-president of the al-Ḥudayda-Ṣanʿāʾ Ottoman railroad company, vice- president of the boards of governors of the Balia Kara-Aidın Ottoman Mini…

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–…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…
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