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Gerush Synagogue, Bursa

(202 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Gerush (Heb. exile) Synagogue in the Turkish city of Bursa (Prusa) was built in the early sixteenth century by Jewish exiles from Spain. The synagogue is located on Arap Şükrü Street, near Sakarya Boulevard. It has a seating capacity of 100 to 150 people. Its strong and well-maintained structure suggests that the synagogue was most likely restored after the shattering earthquake of 1855. An inscription next to the prayer hall of the synagogue is dated to the year 5632 (1872), possibly the ti…

Hubeş, Selim

(152 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Selim Hubeş, born in Istanbul in 1953, is a Turkish Jewish musician and a member of the acclaimed Los Pasharos Sefaradis. Hubeş has been involved in theater and music since 1976. He attended the Academy of Commercial Sciences in Istanbul, graduating with a master’s degree in accounting, and since then has been a self-employed accountant. In 1978, he formed the Sephardic music group Los Pasharos Sefaradis along with Karen Gerşon Şarhon, İzzet Bana, and Yavuz Hubeş. He is the guitarist of the band and its main composer. The band has produced five albums.Hubeş won the second prize at the…

Russo, Nissim

(272 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Nissim Russo was born in Salonica in the late nineteenth century. He was one of the few Turkish Jews to participate in politics around the beginning of the twentieth century, serving as an undersecretary in the Ministry of Finance and as a member of the Ottoman parliament.Throughout his political career, Russo lobbied the Turkish government to support Zionism. In addition, he was a member of the Committee of Union and Progress and one of the early leaders (possibly even a co-founder) of the Young Turk movement. Russo was an active participant in the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. In add…

Yahya, Nedim

(318 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Nedim Nessim Yahya, born in Istanbul in 1925, was a Turkish businessman, industrialist, and leader of the Jewish community. He graduated from the Jewish High School in Istanbul in 1943 and subsequently attended Istanbul Technical University, where he obtained a degree in electrical and mechanical engineering in 1948. Afterwards, Yahya started his own business selling milling machinery. Over the years, he became a successful and highly respected businessman and industrialist.            In the late 1960s, the lay council ( meclis cismani) of Turkey’s chief rabbinate appoint…

Yıldırım Sports and Youth Club

(237 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Yildirim Sports and Youth Club in Istanbul was founded in 1963 by Dr. Menahem Mitrani. Its main objective is to provide a Judaic education to the Jewish youth of Turkey by bringing them together. It was originally intended to be a social club, but it also became an athletic club. In this respect it encourages Jewish participation in sports and athletic competitions, specifically in the Maccabia Games in Israel, and cultivates qualified individuals by encouraging progress and education.At present the Yildirim Sports and  Youth Club is the official athletic club of the …

Pleven (Plevna)

(274 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Pleven (Plevna) is an ancient city in northern Bulgaria. Historical accounts suggest that a Jewish community existed in the city in the Byzantine period. The town accommodated Jewish refugees expelled from Hungary in 1376. In the fifteenth century, Ottoman-ruled Pleven became a popular destination for Jewish refugees from Wallachia, Bavaria, and Spain. In addition, following the Ottoman conquest of Hungary in 1526, many Hungarian Jews flocked to Pleven. The 1579 census listed 209 Jewish households (out of a total of 991 households), mainly Ashkenazi, Hungarian, and Sephardi Jews,…

Kaneti, Selim

(343 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Selim Kaneti (1934–1992) was a renowned Turkish professor of civil law. Born in Istanbul in 1934, he graduated from the Lycée Saint Benoît d’Istanbul and subsequently attended the Istanbul University Faculty of Law. In 1972, he obtained his doctorate from Istanbul University and became a professor of civil law at the Istanbul University Faculty of Law. In 1984, he was appointed head of the Finance and Economics Department and the Tax Law Subdivision at Istanbul University Faculty of Law. He served in these positions until …

Tiryaki

(157 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Tiryaki was a monthly Jewish periodical published in Istanbul by former Şalom writer Moşe Grosman from 1994 to 2000. Printed in Turkish and Ladino, Tiryaki had forty-eight pages and followed the format of Albert Kohen’s popular paper La Boz de Türkiye. Under Grosman’s editorship, Tiryaki focused on opinion and art, and at times criticized Turkish Jewry’s communal administration. In 1998, the popular journal had about a thousand subscribers. It often published writings by influential figures like Yekta Güngör Özden, the former head of Turkey’s constitutional court, the r…

Atilhan, Cevat Rıfat

(385 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Cevat Rifat Atilhan (1892–1967), a well-known antisemitic Turkish writer, journalist, and Nazi sympathizer, was born in Istanbul and completed his high school education at the Kuleli Askeri Lisesi (Kuleli Military High School) there. Subsequently, he attended the Harbiye Military Academy. Graduating in 1912, he fought in the Balkan Wars, World War I, and Turkey’s War of Independence (1919–1922). In 1920, in recognition of his military prowess, he was appointed milis general (general of the militias) by the Turkish Grand National Assembly.            Atilhan resigned from th…

Dostluk Youth Club, Istanbul

(381 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Dostluk Yurdu Derneği (Friendship Home Society), also known as the Dostluk Youth Club and the Jewish Community Center, is a popular Jewish social club in Istanbul that was founded in December 1966 by Moiz Behar, Yuda Saygıbilen, Moşe Benmeleh, Morris Behar, David Eskenazi, Albert Behar, and Şapat Aviyente. Their purpose was to provide a venue where the Jews of Istanbul, particularly the young people, could socialize with one another and learn about their religion and culture.During its formative years, the main activities of the Dostluk Yurdu Derneği included commun…

Levi, Davishon (Davichon Levy)

(197 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Davishon Levi (Davichon Levy), from the city of Ioannina (Janina) in Epirus, was one of the six Jewish deputies in the Ottoman parliament during its second term from 1877 to 1878 (the others were Menahem Salah from Baghdad, Avram from Salonica, Yaver Disraeli and Salamon from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Samuel Molho from Istanbul). During his parliamentary service, Levi  demonstrated great expertise in economics and fiscal policy. He frequently called attention to the Ottoman government’s wasteful spending and rising debts, attacked some of its policies as irres…

Navaro, Leyla

(303 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Leyla Navaro, born in Istanbul in 1943, is an influential Turkish psychologist and writer. She graduated from Istanbul University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and subsequently attended Boğaziçi (Bosporus) University, where she earned a master’s degree in psychological counseling. Her graduate studies focused on personal growth and development, and individual potential. Additionally, her clinical work emphasized gender-sensitive and group therapies.            Navaro is the founder of Nirengi, an organization that provides psychological counseling an…

Filiba, Lina

(236 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

(242 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

(261 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)

(2,999 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
1.    Brief History of EdirneEdirne (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)

(874 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

(157 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

(556 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

(194 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…
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