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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

Education, Language and Social Life

Türk Musevi Basını İlk Gazetesi: La Buena Esperansa 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.

Türk Musevi Basını BaşlıklarıFor 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.
A Community Calendar (Halila) is published by the Chief Rabbinate every year and distributed free of charge to all those who have paid their dues (Kisba) to the welfare bodies. The Community cannot levy taxes, but can request donations.

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 journalism.