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Franco (Franko), Milasli Gad

(542 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Milasli Gad Franco, a prominent Turkish lawyer, journalist, and author, was born in 1881 in Milas, a small town near Izmir. After finishing his primary education in Milas, he went to Rhodes, where he graduated from a Turkish lycée. On his return to Milas, he taught Turkish and French in the local Jewish school from 1901 to 1902. At the same time he began his career as a journalist, writing for Turkish newspapers in Izmir. In 1902 he moved to Izmir and became the editor of the Judeo-Spanish paper El Nouvellista/Le Nouvelliste . Franco was an enthusiastic supporter of the Committee of Union and…

Los Pasharos Sefaradis

(184 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Los Pasharos Sefaradis, based in Istanbul, is a Sephardic vocal and instrumental group whose four members have been working and performing together since 1978: Karen Gerşon Şarhon (voice), İzzet Bana (voice), Selim Hubeş (voice, oud, guitar), Yavuz Hubeş (voice, kanun, oud). They have produced six albums of Judeo-Spanish secular songs: Los Pasharos Sefaradis, 3 vols. (1985), La Romansa de Rika Kuriel (1988), Kantikas Para Syempre (1995), and Las Puertas (2005), as well as an album of the liturgical music of Istanbul’s synagogues, Zemirot: Turkish-Sephardic Synagogue Hymns (2002)…

Rozental, Izel

(264 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Izel Rozental is a Turkish cartoonist and humorist. He was born in 1951 in Istanbul and is of Ashkenazi descent. After graduating from the French Saint Joseph Lycée, he went to work in the private sector. He is currently a partner and general manager of Scrikss Maden ve Plastik Sanayi Inc., a manufacturer, importer, and distributor of fountain and ballpoint pens. He is, in addition, the director of the Ashkenazi-sponsored Schneidertemple Art Center of Istanbul, and a member of the Ashkenazi Community Board.In 1991, Rozental began drawing cartoons for Şalom, the newspaper of the Tur…

Benmayor, Gila

(183 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Gila Benmayor is a prominent Turkish journalist. Born on April 13, 1952 in Istanbul, she graduated from the French Notre Dame de Sion Lycée and later on from the English Language and Literature Department of  Istanbul University. She also holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Faculty of Public Relations and Journalism at Istanbul University. In 1981 she joined the foreign news division of the mainstream Hürriyet newspaper, eventually rising  to the position of chief of the foreign news department. Over the years she has conducted innumerable interviews…

Adato, Salamon

(272 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Salamon Adato was born in 1894 in Edirne. He received his primary education at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school there, and in 1908 entered the prestigious Galatasaray Lisesi (Lycée de Galatasaray) in Istanbul, from which he graduated in 1912. Immediately afterwards he entered the law school of Istanbul University. When World War I broke out, he interrupted his studies and joined the army. After his discharge he resumed his studies, graduating in 1919, and that same year entered the law …

Brod, Simon

(279 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Simon Brod, a businessman of Ashkenazi origin, was born in Istanbul in 1893. His father was a tailor who had fled there from Russia. Simon and his brother Max went into business importing fabrics from England and were very successful, in due course opening a store in Istanbul’s main textile marketplace.During World War II, Simon Brod joined the Refugees Rescue Committee organized by the leaders of the Istanbul Jewish community. He threw himself into the task of obtaining safe passage for Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe who hoped to transit Tu…

Jewish Day School, Istanbul

(351 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
The Jewish Day School of Istanbul, originally called Midrash Yavneh or Lycée Béné Bérith, was founded between 1914 and 1915 by the Constantinople Lodge of B'nai B'rith, Joseph Niego, the president of the lodge, and Rabbi Dr. David Marcus. Niego, a graduate of the Ecole Normale Israélite Orientale, the teachers’ college of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) in Paris, was an agronomist who had taught at the AIU’s Mikve Israel Agricultural School in Palestine for eighteen years before he settled in Istanbul in 1904. M…

Saban, Rifat

(163 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Rifat Saban, a grandson of Raphael Saban, a former chief rabbi of Turkey, was born in 1939 in Istanbul. He graduated from the Law Faculty of Istanbul University in 1964 and since then has practiced commercial law. From 1978 to1980 he was general manager of the BEREC Dry Battery Factory in Istanbul.Saban has been active in the Turkish Jewish community since his youth, and since 1983 has been a member of the Advisory Council of the Turkish Chief Rabbinate. From 1984 to 1986 he was president of Fakirleri Koruma Derneği (Society to Protect the Poor), the successor to theB'nai B'rith Lodgeof Con…

Alkaş, Avraam (Avi)

(159 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Avi Alkaş was born on December 26, 1956 in Istanbul. A graduate and M.B.A. of Bosporus University, he initially worked as managing director for several shopping mall projects. Since 1997 he has been the managing director of Alkaş Alışveriş Merkezleri Danışmanlık Co. Ltd. (, a consultancy for investors interested in building shopping malls. He is a member of the (International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and a European member of both its board and its jury.In 2008 he merged his company and he became the Country Chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle.Alkaş has been acti…

Aviyente, Viktorya

(88 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Viktorya Aviyente was born on February 9, 1950 in Istanbul. She earned her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Bosporus University in Istanbul in 1983 and is currently professor of chemistry in the same university. She conducts research in the fields of physical and computational chemistry, and as of 2009 has published over eighty articles in scientific journals, all of which can be found in the Science Citation Index. She has participated in several international conferences. In addition to Turkish, she is fluent in French and English.Rifat BaliBibliography…

Şarhon, Karen Gerşon

(201 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Karen Gerşon Şarhon is a scholar of Judeo-Spanish, a singer in the Los Pasharos Sepharadis group, and the coordinator of the Ottoman-Turkish Sephardic Research Center. She was born in 1958 in Istanbul and graduated from Robert College and later on from the Linguistics and American Literature Department of the Bosphorus University (formerly Robert College) in Istanbul. She has an M.A. in social pyschology, having written her thesis on the Judeo-Spanish language, and has taught English in the Foreign Languages School of Bosphorus University.In 2006 Şarhon  became the coordinato…

Hayon, David (Bubi)

(226 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
David Hayon, known in the art milieu as Bubi, is a prominent Turkish Jewish painter. He was born on August 5, 1956 in Istanbul. He studied psychology and anthropology at Istanbul University and is a self-trained artist. He has participated in numerous collective exhibitions. Until 1970, he used the letters BDH as his signature, the acronym of Bubi David Hayon. After 1970, he signed his works simply as Bubi.Renowned in the world of modern art for his anarchistic style, Bubi is famous for his “Cages” ( Kafesler), a unique artistic creation in which he makes use of unconventional ma…

Mandel, Nil Molinas

(177 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Nil Molinas Mandel was born in Istanbul on December 1, 1955 and received her medical training at the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty of Istanbul University. Following a year working in the Cardiology Institute at Istanbul University, she undertook a four-year residency in internal medicine at the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty. She then spent two years at the Malatya State Hospital before returning to the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty in 1987 as an associate professor in its Department of Internal Medicine. She became a full professor in 1994. Her vis…

Bahar, Mois

(152 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Mois Bahar was born on September 27, 1945 in Istanbul and graduated in 1971 from the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty at Istanbul University. Since 1991 he has been professor and department chairman of anesthesia and intensive care at the Istanbul University Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty Hospital. He is, in addition the director of the Department of Craniocerebrospinal Trauma and Rehabilitation at Istanbul University’s Institute of Neurological Sciences, director of the Department for Anesthesia and Gene…

Bilen, Alber

(285 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Alber Bilen was born in 1922 in Istanbul and graduated from Istanbul University in 1946 as a chemical engineer. In 1963, he entered into a patent agreement with the German Henkel company that allowed him to produce its chemicals in Turkey. In 1964 this operation was transformed into a joint venture, and the company was renamed Türk Henkel. Bilen served as its chief executive officer until 1984, then retired in 1986 and sold his share to Henkel.In 1989 Bilen became a member of the advisory council of the chief rabbinate (see Hakham Bashi (Chief Rabbi)) and later vice presiden…

Kaya, Jak

(97 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Jak Kaya is a Turkish businessman. He was born on May 1, 1938 in Tire and in 1961 graduated as a construction engineer from the prestigious Istanbul Technical University. He is a partner in Ege Mermer (Aegean Marble), a company specializing in the importing of machinery and materials for the production of marble. Between 1980 and 1990 he was vice president of the Izmir Karataş Jewish Hospital. From 1990 to 2004 he was vice president of the Izmir Jewish Community, and he has been its president since January 2005. He is fluent in French and English.Rifat Bali

Varnalı, Tereza

(71 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Tereza Varnalı is a Turkish Jewish scientist and academic administrator.  She was born on March 26, 1957 in Istanbul. In 1986 she was awarded a Ph.D. from Bosphorous University. Since 1986 she has been a member of the Chemistry Department of Bosphorous University, specializing in organic chemistry, computational chemistry, and molecular modeling. In 1998 she was promoted to the rank of full professor.Rifat BaliBibliographyCurriculum vitae on Boğaziçi University website:

Pinto, Bensiyon

(270 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Bensiyon Pinto was born on October 8, 1936 in Istanbul. His father was an employee of a private firm. Pinto graduated from high school in Israel and has a brother living there. Since 1954, he has been worked in various agencies and institutions of the Turkish Jewish community. He helped to found the Yildirim Sports and Youth Club and was one of its directors until 1970. In 1976 he assumed responsibility for the finance division of the Turkish chief rabbinate. From 1979 until 1982 he was vice-president of the advisory council of the chief rabbinate. In 1982 he was elected vice-president of the Tur…

Arditti, Nadia

(263 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Nadia Arditti (née Cavaliero) was born in 1948 in Istanbul. She was educated in Lausanne, Switzerland, and lived in Geneva for many years. Since 1992 her life’s passion has been sculpting in bronze. She started out making figures of women, and gradually expanded to angels, her work expressing the desire for independence common to many modern Turkish women. Her style is semi-figurative, drawing on Art Nouveau with a surrealistic flavor. Her works are found in private collections in Turkey, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Spain,…

Esim, Janet and Jak

(209 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Jak Esim was born on August 6, 1958 in Istanbul. He graduated from the Şişli High School and then took private music lessons. His wife, Janet Esim, was born on September 19, 1965 in Ankara and is a graduate of  the Tevfik Fikret Lycée. She began a career in music after marry Jak, and the couple are known professionally as the Janet & Jak Esim Ensemble.A compiler, researcher, and interpreter of Sephardic music, Jak Esim has collected fifteen hundred Sephardic songs and has produced thirteen albums, nine of which also feature Janet. Their album Sefardim 1, produced in Germany in 1992, was a…
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