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The History of Turkish Jews Print E-mail
Written by © Naim A. GÜLERYÜZ   
Article Index
The History of Turkish Jews
A History Predating 1492
A Haven for Sephardic Jews
The Life of Ottoman Jews
Turkish Jews Today
Education, Language and Social Life
References

A Haven for Sephardic Jews

Sultan Bayazid II's offer of refuge gave new hope to the persecuted Sephardim. In 1492, the Sultan ordered the governors of the provinces of the Ottoman Empire "not to refuse the Jews entry or cause them difficulties, but to receive them cordially"; According to Bernard Lewis, "the Jews were not just permitted to settle in the Ottoman lands, but were encouraged, assisted and sometimes even compelled".

Welcome Tablosu  
 "Welcome" painting by Mevlut Akyildiz.

Immanual Aboab attributes to Bayazid II the famous remark that "the Catholic monarch Ferdinand was wrongly considered as wise, since he impoverished Spain by the expulsion of the Jews, and enriched Turkey".

The arrival of the Sephardim altered the structure of the community and the original group of Romaniote Jews was totally absorbed.

Over the centuries an increasing number of European Jews, escaping persecution in their native countries, settled in the Ottoman Empire. In 1537 the Jews expelled from Apulia (Italy) after the city fell under Papal control, in 1542 those expelled from Bohemia by King Ferdinand found a safe haven in the Ottoman Empire. In March of 1556, Sultan Suleyman "the Magnificent" wrote a letter to Pope Paul IV asking for the immediate release of the Ancona Marranos, which he declared to be Ottoman citizens. The Pope had no other alternative than to release them, the Ottoman Empire being the "Super Power" of those days.

By 1477, Jewish households in Istanbul numbered 1647 or 11% of the total. Half a century later, 8070 Jewish houses were listed in the city.