|The History of Turkish Jews|
|Written by © Naim A. GÜLERYÜZ|
Page 6 of 7
Education, Language and Social Life
Most Jewish children attend state schools or private Turkish or foreign language schools, and many are enrolled in the universities. Additionally, the Community maintains in Istanbul a school complex including elementary and secondary schools for around 700 students. Turkish is the language of instruction, and Hebrew is taught 3 to 5 hours a week.
While younger Jews speak Turkish as their native language, the over-70-years-old generation is more at home speaking in French or Judeo-Spanish (Ladino). A conscious effort is spent to preserve the heritage of Judeo-Spanish.
many years Turkish Jews have had their own press. La Buena Esperansa and La
Puerta del Oriente started in Izmir in 1843 and Or Israel was first published in
Istanbul ten years later. Now one newspaper survives: SALOM (Shalom), a fourteen
to sixteen pages weekly in Turkish with one page in Judeo-Spanish.
Two Jewish hospitals, the 98 bed Or-Ahayim in Istanbul and the 22 bed KaratasHospital in Izmir, serve the Community. Both cities have homes for the aged (Moshav Zekinim) and several welfare associations to assist the poor, the sick, the needy children and orphans.
Social clubs containing libraries, cultural and sports facilities, discotheques give young people the chance to meet.
The Jewish Community is of course a very small group in Turkey today,
considering that the total population - 99% Muslim - exceeds 67 million. But in
spite of their number the Jews have distinguished themselves. There are several
Jewish professors teaching at the Universities of Istanbul and Ankara, and many
Turkish Jews are prominent in business, industry, liberal professions and