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Yanina (Yanya, Ioannina)

(692 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 end of the sixteenth century as the two groups learned to tolerate each other. In the seventeenth century, the Sephardi and Romaniot communities lived in the Siarava and Leivadioti quarters outside the city walls. There were two synagogues, known as the old …


(486 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Çanakkale is a town in Turkey on the eastern side of the Dardanelles, founded in 1463 not far from the site of the ancient Abydos. Sephardi Jews settled there sometime in the seventeenth century. In 1740, there were approximately fifty Jewish families in the town. Due to Çanakkale’s increasing political and economic importance, the Jewish populationgrew steadily during the nineteenth century: estimates point to about 550 Jews in the city in 1820, 700 in 1840, 1,100 in 1876, 1,354 in 1888, and 1,805 in 1894. At the beginning of the nineteenth centu…

Thrace Riots (1934)

(689 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. Cevat Rıfat Atilhan, a Nazi sympathizer who went to Germany to garner support, defended the Nazi program in his journal Milli İnkilap (National Revolution).The first fruit of the anti-Jewish campaign was a boycott in Çanakkale in mid-June 1934. Numerous Jew…

Gabbay, Ezekiel II

(378 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 counc…


(463 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 Romaniot synagogue was built in the ci…

Gallipoli (Gelibolu)

(648 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Gallipoli (Turk. Gelibolu) is a port town on the southern coast of the Gallipoli peninsula in European Turkey at the Marmara end of the Dardanelles (Turk. Çanakkale Boğazı). It was the principal naval base and arsenal of the Ottoman Empire until the sixteenth century. The twelfth-century Spanish traveler Benjamin of Tudela, who visited the city under Byzantine rule, reports that it had a Jewish community of about two hundred souls ( Itinerary, ed. M. N. Adler, p. 24). Thirteenth- and fourteenth-century sources mention Romaniots residing in the city. The Ottomans oc…

Nikopol (Nigbolu)

(340 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Nikopol(Turk. Niğbolu) is a port city on the southern bank of the Danube River in present-day Bulgaria. A Jewish community of Romaniots and Ashkenazim lived there before the Ottoman conquest in 1389. Sephardi Jews arrived in the city after the expulsion from Spain in 1492. As a regional administrative and commercial center, Nikopol attracted Jewish settlers and became a major Jewish center in sixteenth-century Bulgaria.Nikopol’s Jewish population numbered 206 between 1520 and 1535, 492 in the mid-sixteenth century, and 1,017 in 1580. Importing salt from Wallachia, tax farming, cu…


(459 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 the Bulgarians during the Balkan Wars of 1912 to 1913. By the Treaty of Sèvres (August 10, 1920), eastern Thrace, including Tekirdağ, was attached to Greece, but the region was recaptured by the Turkish army in October and November of 1922.Although the date when the Jewish community in Tekirdağ was founded is unknown, the city’s commercial poss…

Gabbay, Ezekiel (Baghdadli)

(338 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Ezekiel ben Joseph Nissim Menahem Gabbay, known by the sobriquet Baghdadli, was a prominent banker, Jewish communal leader, and philanthropist was born in Baghdad sometime in the second half of the eighteenth century. He was the sarrafbaşı (personal banker) of Sultan Mahmud II when he was executed in 1823.From 1806, when he became the leader of the Jewish community in Baghdad, Ezekiel did much to benefit his coreligionists. In 1811, as a reward for his help the previous year in suppressing the revolt of the Mamluk leader Küçük Süleyman Pasha and restoring order and the authority o…

Kırklareli (Kırk Kilise)

(597 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 Simon, who passed through Kirklareli in 1603, mentions an Ashkenazi community whose main income came from the pr…


(630 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,…


(2,464 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 Jews from Hungary were settled in Ottoman territories, and some of them came to Belgrade. In …


(467 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 Manisa via the Balkans. The Ottoman census of 1531 registered approximately five hundred Jews in Manisa, and in 157…