|The History of Turkish Jews|
|Written by © Naim A. GÜLERYÜZ|
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Turkish Jews Today
The present size of Jewish Community is estimated at around 25.000. The vast majority live in Istanbul, with a community of about 2.500 in Izmir and other smaller groups located in Adana, Ankara, Antakya, Bursa, Canakkale, Kirklareli etc. Sephardim make up 96% of the Community, with Ashkenazim accounting for the rest. There are about 100 Karaites, an independent group who does not accept the authority of the Chief Rabbi.
Turkish Jews are legally represented, as they have been for many centuries, by the Hahambasi, the Chief Rabbi. He is assisted by a religious Council made up of five Hahamim. Fifty Lay Counsellors look after the secular affairs of the Community and an Executive Committee of fourteen runs the daily matters. Representatives of Jewish foundations and institutions meet four times a year as a so-called ??think tank?? to exchange opinions on different subjects concerning the Turkish Jewry.
Synagogues are classified as religious foundations (Vakifs). There are 18 synagogues in use in Istanbul today. Three are in service in holiday resorts, during summer only. Some of them are very old, especially Ahrida Synagogue in the Balat area, which dates from middle15th century. The 15th and 16th century Haskoy and Kuzguncuk cemeteries in Istanbul are still in use today.
The Museum of Turkish Jews (Türk Musevileri Müzesi), the first such Museum in Turkey, has been inaugurated on November 25, 2001. (Details at the end of this article).