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Kırklareli (Kırk Kilise)

(608 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Kirklareli is a town in the northwestern corner of the European part of Turkey. It was conquered in 1362 by the Ottomans, who called it Kirk Kilise (Forty Churches, or perhaps Forty Saints, from Gk. sarante eklesiai), but the name was changed officially in 1924. Kirklareli was the most important sancak of Edirne (Adrianople) because of its location on the route from Istanbul to Shumen and Pravadi. The date when Jews first arrived in the town is unknown. The Polish traveler …

Yanina (Yanya, Ioannina)

(705 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Numerous Romaniot Jews were already living in the city of Yanina (Ioannina; Tur. Yanya), in the Epirus region of Greece, when it was conquered by the Ottomans in 1430. After the expulsion from Spain in 1492, Sephardi Jews also settled in Yanina. Relations between Romaniots and Sephardim were uneasy at first but improved toward the …


(642 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Vidin is an old port city on the southern bank of the Danube River in northwestern Bulgaria close to both the Romanian and Serbian borders. When the city fell under Ottoman rule in 1394, its Jewish community included both Romaniots and Ashkenazim. Other Ashkenazim arrived from Bavaria in 1470, and Sephardim began to arrive after the expulsion from Spain in 1492.  The wars between the Ottomans and the Wallachian voivodas (territorial military governors) in the fifteenth century and attacks by Vlad Ţepeş in 1455 to 1462 and 1466 to 1467 threatened the Jews of Vidin, and many left for Pleven, Plovdiv, and Sofia. According to Ottoman census figures, there were only six Jewish families left in Vidin in 1528 to 1529. The number increased to thirty-one in 1585, forty-eight at the end of the sixteenth century, and fifty-five in 1644. Although they were relatively few in number, the Jews had an …

Thrace Riots (1934)

(698 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
The Thrace Riots were a series of anti-Jewish incidents that occurred in some of the cities of western Turkey in 1934. Although Turkey disapproved of the Nazi government in Germany in 1933, and welcomed Jewish academicians who fled from Nazi Germany, small racist and anti-Jewish groups emerged in various parts of the country. …


(2,494 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Surrounded by Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, and Bosnia, Serbia (Ott. Tur. Ṣırb) is an inland country in the northwestern Balkans. The earliest records of a Jewish presence in Serbia date from the late fourteenth century, when Jews from Hungary settled in Belgrade. They were followed in the fifteenth century by Jews from Bavaria and Italy. With the conquest of Belgrade in 1521, Ottoman rule of Serbia was consolidated. After the conquest of Buda in 1526, more than two thousand …

Gabbay, Ezekiel II

(386 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Ezekiel Gabbay II (1825–1898) was descended from a family with roots in Baghdad and was the grandson of his namesake, Baghdadli Ezekiel Gabbay (d. ca. 1823), who had been banker to Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808–1839). Ezekiel Gabbay II held several government offices during the reigns of Sultans Abdülaziz (r. 1861–1876) and Abdülhamid II (r. 1876-1909). He began in 1869 as an official at the Ministry of Public Instruction and subsequently became president of the Supreme Criminal Court. At the same time, he was also active in Jewish communal affairs and served as secretary of the council of lay leaders, known at the time as the Meclis Peqidim(Assembly of Notables). In 1860, during the tenure of the liberal chief rabbi Jacob Avigdor, and under the leadership of Abraham Camondo, the council decided to publish a Judeo-Spanish periodical, El Jurnal Israelit and appointed Gabbay its editor. The Jurnal came out three times a week and proved to be the first long-lasting Judeo-Spanish periodical, appearing continuously from 1860 to 1871. Because it advocated reformist ideas, it was vigorously criticized by conservative elements in the community. Eventually, bans were issued against Gabbay and the Jurnal. His son, Isaac Gabbay, and his son-in-law, Moïse Dalmedico, followed in the journalistic tradition and published successor newspapers under different titles. Ezekiel Gabbay is credited with having written, in 1865, the Hahamhane Nizamnamesi (Organic Statute of the Jewish Nation in Turkey), which was later incorporated into the Ottoman civi…


(471 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Located on the western shore of the Aegean Sea, Volos (Turk. Golos) is the principal port city of the Thessaly region of Greece. During the Greek War of Independence (1821–1833), most of the Jews of the Morea Peninsula were killed. Some of the survivors went to Volos, which was still under Turkish rule, and established a Jewish community there. In 1859, there were thirty-five Jewish families in the city. The number of Jewish families reached 190 in 1869. In the 1870s, between thirty and forty destitute Jewish families arrived in Volos from Yanina. A …

Gallipoli (Gelibolu)

(657 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Gallipoli (Tur…

Gabbay, Ezekiel (Baghdadli)

(344 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Ezekiel ben Joseph Nissim Menahem Gabbay, known by the sobriquet Baghdadli…


(467 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Located in eastern Thrace on the western shores of the Sea of Marmara, Tekirdağ (Rodosto) is a port city in Turkey. It was conquered by the Ottomans in 1357, and its port served both Edirne and Istanbul for centuries. The city was occupied by th…


(477 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Manisa (Ott. Turk. Maghnisa; ancient Magnesia) is a city in western Anatolia situated south of the Gediz River on the northeastern slopes of the Manisa Dağı, which separates it from Izmir. The Ottoman Turks conquered it in 1313. Under Ottoman rule, the city became an important political and economic center where Ottoman princes gained experience in governance. After the expulsion from Spain in 1492, small groups of Sephardi Jews began to arrive in…