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Ventura, Michon (Moïses)

(331 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Mişon (Moïses) Ventura was a Turkish legal scholar, lawyer, and community leader. Born in 1881 in Hasköy, a neighborhood of Istanbul with a great concentration of Jewish residents, Ventura graduated from the law school of Istanbul University in January 1905. After practicing for a time as a member of the Trade Court in Salonica and teaching in the Salonica law school,he was selected to go to Paris to continue his law studies. He graduated from the law school of the Paris Academy in 1912.Ventura registered with the Istanbul Bar Association in 1916 and that same year began teach…

Özel, Soli

(214 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Soli Özel is a Turkish Jewish journalist, editor, and foreign policy analyst. Born in Izmir on January 17, 1958, he has a B.A. from Bennington College and an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, both in the United States. Özel teaches international relations and political science at Istanbul Bilgi University. In addition, he is the editor of Private View, the journal of the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD), the editor of the Turkish edition of Foreign Policy, a journal based in Washington, D.C.…

Perahya, Klara

(148 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Klara Perahya is a social worker, writer, and activist for the preservation of Judeo-Spanish culture. She was born in 1921 in Istanbul, was educated at the Notre Dame de Sion Lycée, and is active in the various social services of the Turkish Jewish community. Since 1997, she has written a weekly column in Judeo-Spanish in Şalom ( Shalom), the only newspaper of the Turkish Jewish community. She has attended several international conferences on the Judeo-Spanish language and culture. Together with Suzi De Toledo, Suzi Danon, and Fani Ender, Perahya is an editor of Erensya Sefaradi (Proverb…

Barouh, Yakup

(277 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Yakup Barouh is a Turkish advertising executive and a leader of the Jewish community. Born in Istanbul on February 7, 1945, he graduated from Robert College with an M.A. in marketing. He is a partner and executive vice president of Ilancilik Advertising Agency, the oldest advertising agency in Turkey, founded in 1909. He is also general secretary of the Executive Committee of the Turkish Advertising Agency Association and a member of the Turkish Advertising Self-Regulation Board.Barouh first began to work with Turkish Jewish community youth organizations in 1962. A mem…

Kamhi, Cefi Jozef

(195 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Cefi Jozef Kamhi was born on November 21, 1952 in Istanbul and graduated from Bosporus University of Istanbul. He is the founder and chairman of Bodrum Yalıkavak Tourism and Yacht Harbour Investments S.A. Between 1995 and 1999 he was a member of parliament, representing the center-right Doğru Yol Partisi (True Path Party). The party selected him as a candidate because of his mastery of public relations and lobbying, as well as the reputation of his father, Jak Kamhi, the president of the Quincentennial Foundation, who often represented Turkey in international economic forums.…

Günzberg, Sami

(221 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Sami Günzberg was born in 1874 in Istanbul to parents of Hungarian origin who had immigrated to Turkey in 1848. Günzberg was a military doctor in the Ottoman army. Through his mother, who had connections at court, he became the court dentist, with Sultan Abdülhamid and Sultan Vahdettin and their families as his patients. Günzberg retained this prestigious post even after the caliphate was abolished and the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed on October 29, 1923, for he became the private dentist of Mustafa Kemal (later named Atatürk), the founder of the republic and its first p…

Kebudi, Rejin (Akyüz)

(175 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Rejin (Akyüz) Kebudi is a Turkish Jewish scientist and professor of medicine. Born in 1958 in Izmir, she graduated first in her class from the Izmir American College for Girls, and in 1982 was first in her class in the Faculty of Medicine of Aegean University. In 1993 she became an associate professor of pediatrics and pediatric oncology. She became a full professor in 2000, and since then has also been a member of the executive board of the Istanbul University Oncology Institute and director of…

Faraci, Izak

(146 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Izak Faraci, a prominent Turkish industrialist and leader of the Jewish community, was born on July 15, 1943 in Istanbul. A graduate of the Saint Benoît French Lycée, he is the president of the Güvenel Textile Works, which provides fiber to the textile industry. Earlier he held managerial positions in institutions of the Turkish Jewish community: from 1978 to 1988, as director of the community’s old age home; from 1988 to 1990, as president of the same institution. From 1990 to 1998, he was a member of the executive council of t…

Israel, Samuel (Kemal Izisel)

(372 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Samuel Israel, who later changed his name to Kemal İzisel, was born in 1880 in the town of Alanya in southern Turkey, but he grew up in Rhodes after his family moved there. Upon graduating from the Alliance Israélite Universelle school in Rhodes, he attended the law school of Istanbul University. After graduation, he became a member  of the Court of First Instance in Serez (Serres) in Macedonia and later of the Court of First Instance in Salonica. While in Salonica he joined the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), the leading faction of the Young Turk Movement.In September 1909 Israel be…

Bahar, Ivet

(224 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Dr. Ivet Bahar was born in Istanbul in 1957. After completing her B.S. (1980) and M.S. (1983) in the Chemical Engineering Department of Bosporus University, and her Ph.D. (1986) at Istanbul Technical University, she joined the chemistry faculty of Bosporus University. She rose in the academic ranks from assistant professor (1986–1988) and associate professor (1988–1993) to full professor (1993–2001), and was the founding director of the university’s Polymer Research Center (1989–2001). In 2001 Ba…

Medina, Cefi (Jeffi)

(207 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Cefi (Jeffi) Medina was born on July 22, 1950 in Istanbul. He studied economics at Strasbourg University(France), and then attended and graduated from Istanbul University. In 1974 he began work as a television producer at Manavizyon, a sister company of the Manajans Thompson Advertising Company. In 1978 he was appointed president of Manavizyon, and in 1987, president of Manajans Thompson. In 1993 he left both companies and, together with Yavuz Turgul, established the Medina Turgul Advertising Agency. In 1995 it entered into a joint venture agreement with the DDB Worldwide Communica…

Levi, Suzi Hug

(201 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Suzi Hug Levi was born in 1944 inIstanbul to an Ashkenazi family and is a graduate of Robert College. Since 1980 she has been a professional painter and sculptor. She has won several awards: in 1991 the Year’s Artist award from the Istanbul Paintings and Sculptures Museum; in 1997 the Sharjah Biennial Award of the United Arab Emirates; in 1998, 1999, and 2000 the Year’s Artist award in sculpture from the Ankara Art Institution; in 2002 the Tunis Biennial Award; and in 2004 the IJAYA (International Jewi…

Şaül, Linet

(138 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Linet Şaül is a Turkish Jewish opera singer (soprano). She was born in 1970 in Istanbul. She graduated in 1995 from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford in the United States and later studied with the Italian baritone Licinio Montefusco. Since 1998 she has been performing at the Izmir State Opera. Some of her roles include Don Giovanni (Zerlina), Faust (Siébel), Fidelio (Marzelline), Barber of Seville (Rosina), and Carmen (Frasquita). She has given concerts in Turkey, Italy, South Africa, and Uruguay. In 1995 she was a finalist in the Internationa…

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…

Mandel, Irvin

(125 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Irvin Mandel, an Ashkenazi Jew, was born on November 20, 1956 in Istanbul. He holds a B.A. from the Higher Education Hospitality and Tourism Management program of the Glion Institute in Montreux, Switzerland, and is a partner in a tourism company. In addition, since 1992 he has drawn the “Mozotros Family” cartoon strip in Şalom, the only newspaper of the Turkish Jewish community. Mozotros is a Judeo-Spanish expression that means “our people.” The comic strip is a satirical depiction of the daily life of the Jews of Istanbul. Mandel published his collected cartoons in five albums called Moz…

Perahya, Eli (Elie)

(187 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Eli Perahya was a leader of the Turkish Jewish community, a writer, and a Judeo-Spanish poet. He was born in Istanbul in 1913 and was educated at the Saint Joseph French Lycée. A retired accountant and financial professional, he has worked since an early age in the social  institutions of the Turkish Jewish community. From 1957 to 1983, he was a member of the lay council of the Turkish chief rabbinate and in 1983 was elected its vice president. From 1974 to 1976 he was president of the Society to Protect the Poor (Fakirleri Koruma Derneği), a successor to the B'nai B'rith Lodge of Constantinop…

Abravaya, Samuel

(190 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Samuel Abravaya was born in 1880 in Izmir. He graduated in 1903 from the Imperial Medical School of Istanbul and continued his studies in Paris. From 1919 to 1935 he was a docent at the Medical School of Istanbul University. Abravaya specialized in gastroenterology. He was a member of the French Gastroenterological Society, vice president of the Ottoman Medical Society, and physician to President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In 1935 Abravaya was elected to the Turkish National Assembly as an independent deputy from Niğde. He retained his seat until March 8, 1943, but his pr…
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