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CursoDeLadino.com.ar - The History of Turkish Jews - Naim Guleryuz

CursoDeLadino.com.ar - The History of Turkish Jews - Naim Guleryuz

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Published by: Curso De Ladino Djudeo-Espanyol on Aug 13, 2012
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08/13/2012

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 The History of Turkish Jews
By Naim Guleryuz
 
Foreword
 
 
A History Predating 1492
 
 
A Haven for Sephardic Jews
 
 
The Life of Ottoman Jews
 
 
Equality and a new Republic
 
 
Turkish Jews Today
 
 
Education Language and Social Life
 
 
The Quincentennial Foundation "500. Yil Vakfi"
 
Foreword
On the midnight of August 2
nd
1492, when Colombus embarked on what wouldbecome his most famous expedition to the New World, his fleet departed from therelatively unknown seaport of Palos because the shipping lanes of Cadiz and Sevillewere clogged with Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain by the Edict of QueenIsabella and King Ferdinand of Spain.The Jews forced either to convert to Christianism or to "leave" the country undermenace
"they dare not return... not so much as to take a step on them not trepass upon them in any manner whatsoever" 
left their land, their property, theirbelongings all that was theirs and familiar to them rather than abadon their beliefs,their traditions, their heritage.
 
 In the faraway Ottoman Empire, one ruler extended an immediate welcome to thepersecuted Jews of Spain, the Sepharadim. He was the
Sultan Bayazid II
.As we approach 1992, the Discovery year for all those connected to the Americancontinents North, Central and South world Jewry is concerned with commemoratingnot only the expulsion, but also seven centuries of the Jewish life in Spain,flourishing under Moslem rule, and the 500th anniversary of the official welcomeextended by the Ottoman Empire in 1492.This humanitarianism is consistent with the beneficence and goodwill traditionallydisplayed by the Turkish government and people towards those of different creeds,cultures and backgrounds. Indeed, Turkey could serve as a model to be emulatedby any nation which finds refugees from any of the four corners of the worldstanding at its doors.In 1992, Turkish Jewry will celebrate not only the anniversary of this graciouswelcome, but also the remarkable spirit of tolerance and acceptance which hascharacterized the whole Jewish experience in Turkey. The events being planned,symposiums, conferences, concerts, exhibitions, films and books, restoration of ancient Synagogues etc will commemorate the longevity and prosperity of theJewish community. As a whole, the celebration aims to demonstrate the richnessand security of life Jews have found in the Ottoman Empire and the TurkishRepublic over these morethanfive centuries, and show that indeed it is notimpossible for people of different creeds to live together peacefully under one flag.
 
A History Predating 1492
The history of the Jews in Anatolia started many centuries before the migration of Sephardic Jews. Remnants of Jewish settlement from the 4
th
century B.C. have beenuncovered in the Aegean region. The historian Josephus Flavius relates that Aristotle
"met Jewish people with whom he had an exchange of views during his trip across Asia Minor." 
 
 
Ancient synagogue ruins have been found in Sardis, near Izmir, dating from 220 B.C. andtraces of other Jewish settlements have been discovered near Bursa, in the southeast andalong the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts. A bronze column found inAnkara confirms the rights the Emperor Augustus accorded the Jews of Asia Minor.Jewish comunities in Anatolia flourished and continued to prosper through the Turkishconquest. When the Ottomans captured Bursa in 1324 and made it their capital, theyfound a Jewish community oppressed under Byzantine rule. The Jews welcomed theOttomans as saviors. Sultan Orhan gave them permission to build the
Etz ha-Hayyim(Tree of Life)
synagogue which remained in service until 50 years ago.Early in the 14th century, when the Ottomans had established their capital at Edirne, Jewsfrom Europe, including Karaites, migrated there. (1) Similarly, Jews expelled fromHungary in 1376, from France by Charles VI in September 1394, and from Sicily early inthe 15th century found refuge in the Ottoman Empire. In the 1420s, Jews from Salonikathen under Venetian control fled to Edirne. (2)Ottoman rule was much kinder than Byzantine rule had been. In fact, from the early 15thcentury on, the Ottomans actively encouraged Jewish immigration.
(from Edirne) to Jewish communities in Europe in the first part of thecentury
"invited his coreligionists to lease the torments they were enduring inChristiandom and to seek safety and prosperity in Turkey".
(3)When Mehmet II "the Conqueror" took Constantinople in 1453, he encountered anoppressed Romaniot (Byzantine) Jewish community which welcomed him withenthousiasm. Sultan Mehmet II issued a proclamation to all Jews
"... to ascend the site of the Imperial Throne, to dwell in the best of the land, each beneath his Dine and his figtree, with silver and with gold, with wealth and with cattle...".
(4)In 1470, Jews expelled from Bavaria by Ludvig X found refuge in the Ottoman Empire.(5)(1)
 
Mark Alan Epstein, "The Ottoman Jewish Communuties and their role in the 15thand 16th centuries"(2) Joseph Nehama, "Histoire des Israelites de Salonique"(3) Bernard Lewis, "The Jews of Islam"(4) Encyclopedia Judaica, Volume 16 page 1532(5) Avram Galante, "Histoire des Juifs d'lstanbul", Volume 2

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