TURKEY, modern republic in Asia Minor and S.E. Europe (see *Ottoman Empire for previous period). In the peace treaty of Lausanne (July 24, 1923), Turkey established complete sovereignty in Anatolia, the southeastern part of Thrace, and some islands in its territorial waters. The international status of the Turkish republic established in 1923 was secured, and in the following year the caliphate was abolished. The Treaty of Lausanne secured the rights of the religious and ethnic minorities (par. 39), who were permitted to have their own social institutions, funds, and schools (par. 40). In paragraph 41 the Turkish government assured the minorities their personal status as provided by their religious canons. The Jews showed their Turkish patriotism in the new republic: they relinquished the claims connected with their rights as a minority, and many renounced their foreign nationality and became Turkish citizens. Turkish Jewry was represented in parliament by Solomon Adato (from 1946 until his death in 1953) and by Henry Suriano (from 1954). The Turkish republic was declared a secular state, and Mustafa *Kemal Atatürk, its founder, attempted to erase all signs of the religious-institutional influence of Islam and also to maintain equality of Christianity and Judaism in public life. Even the wearing of "clerical" garb was prohibited and permitted only to the heads of the autonomous churches. For the Jews the prohibition on teaching Hebrew in schools was a hard blow. After Atatürk's death in 1938 many of the prohibitions he introduced were eased (e.g., the use of Arabic during the call for prayer in the mosques), but the general attitude toward religious minorities remained unchanged.
In 1926 G. Bie Raondal, the U.S. consul general in Istanbul, wrote: "In the former Ottoman Empire they [the Jews] occupied important government positions, but the tendency of the new nationalism, ushered in by the republic, has been to put them in the same relative position as other non-Muslims, although they have never been persecuted in Turkey. [Now they] have carved out for themselves a place in every branch of the national life and are found as traders, bankers, professional men, office workers, and even laborers" (Turkey, 1926). Since 1926 many changes have occurred in modern Turkey, and the Jewish community has dwindled to an almost insignificant minority from the economic aspect. Although the severe blow of the capital tax (see below) was only temporary, it had a psychological effect on the Jewish community and was one of the causes of Jewish emigration from the country.
Jewish national life did not develop in *Istanbul and the towns which remained within the boundaries of Turkey; the Zionist idea had only few followers in the capital. The negative attitude of the Turkish government to Zionism was a heritage from Young Turk and Ottoman times, and influenced Turkish Jews. However, the idea of full integration in the Turkish state appeared to be unrealistic. The Jews, like the Greeks and the Armenians, unofficially remained second-class citizens. This was both demonstrated and felt in particular during World War II, so long as Hitler's antisemitic propaganda gained ground and it seemed that the Axis powers were moving toward victory. To meet wartime needs in the neutral Turkish republic a capital tax (varlik vergisi) was approved (1942) which was to be levied on owners of large farms (Muslims) and other taxpayers. However, it soon became apparent that the really important determinants of a taxpayer's assessment were his religion and nationality. The taxpayers' lists were prepared according to denominational indications. M (for Muslims) had to pay 5% of their capital or income (the same grade was accorded to foreign citizens); the tax rate for D (*Doenmeh) was about twice as much as for Muslims; for G (Gayri Muslims, non-Muslims) assessments would be made by special commissions, in accordance with their opinions. In fact the poorest among the non-Muslims, especially Jewish artisans, wage earners, and others, were taxed at figures wildly beyond their ability to pay. Members of the minorities who had retained or obtained foreign protection at the time of the armistice and Allied occupation (1919–23) were able to have their assessments reduced to the Muslim level. The Jews who had trusted
in the new republic and thrown their lot in with it were subject to victimization and punishment. Through the spring and summer of 1943 the continuing arrests, seizures, and deportations to labor camps were almost all of non-Muslims, the majority of whom were Jews. Many businessmen were ruined by assessments higher than their total possessions; others, though wealthy enough to pay, went bankrupt because no time was allowed them to find sufficient liquid money. The pro-Axis press expressed cordial approval of these developments, and denounced people of "alien blood," "Turks by name only," who should be punished for their disloyalty and ingratitude. With the decline of German power, as the downfall of the Axis became evident, a law was passed (1944) releasing all defaulters still detained and canceling all amounts still unpaid. The Democratic Party even promised compensation for damages caused to health and wealth.
After the end of the war the general economic situation and its structure changed for the better. Primarily, the reforms introduced after the establishment of the republic began to be felt. In addition, the aid given by the United States, aimed to strengthen the social structure of the population and hence the strategic value of the country, showed its efficacy. The Jewish population also took part in this recovery. In 1968 the economic situation of Turkish Jewry was good and the community contained some wealthy men. Most Jews were merchants, employees (very few of them in government service), or artisans. There were few underprivileged since most of the needy had settled in Israel soon after the establishment of the state.
Minor discrimination against Jews in Istanbul occurred, however, influenced by the tension between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus. During the anti-Greek riots in 1955 and 1964 the Jews were among the victims. The *Six-Day War (1967) also aroused anti-Jewish feelings and led to some small-scale incidents. The Turkish government, which had established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1949, always attempted to quell mob turbulence, but not with full effect. As the government's attitude toward Muslim religious activities became more tolerant, the rightist parties used it as a cover for anti-Jewish propaganda. Antisemitism being prohibited by law, anti-leftist and anti-Communist slogans were employed demagogically. By use of these tactics a small daily, Bugün, raised its circulation from 10,000 copies to 60,000. Some Turkish newspapers published articles in 1948 and later condemning emigration to Israel, and a few attacked the government for allowing it. They argued that the exodus of Jews would undermine the economy, and that communists were helping to organize emigration. Later, the amount of anti-Jewish material published in Turkey was reduced. Among those continuing to publish such material was Cevat Rifat Atilhan, who wrote Le Sionisme, Danger pour l'Islamisme (1951; almost all copies were seized by the authorities) and "Turks, Here is Your Enemy" (Turkish, 1959). Atilhan also wrote anti-Jewish articles in the newspaper Yeni Istiklal. Between 1951 and 1961 the newspaper Büyük Dogˇu ("Great East"), whose editor was Necip Fazil Kisakürek, printed many anti-Jewish articles.
The first census of the Turkish republic, held in 1927, showed some 79,454 Jews in a total population of over 13.5 million (see Table: Distribution of Jewish Population in Turkey), of whom half were in Istanbul. By 1945, the total Jewish population had decreased to 76,965, and in 1955 to 40,345. Immediately after the establishment of the State of Israel there was large-scale
Cultural, Religious, and Social Life
There was a dramatic decline of interest in Judaism and Jewish culture among Turkish Jewry in the period between the two world wars and for a few years after it. The last Hebrew press closed in 1944, when its proprietor emigrated to Ereẓ Israel. After the death in 1931 of the ḥakham bashi R. Be khor Ḥayyim *Bejarano, the official representative of Turkish Jewry, the community did not even feel an immediate necessity to appoint a successor. This absence of a spiritual leader not only led to religious indifference but also to apathy. As the ḥakham bashi was responsible for leading all activities of all Jewish communities in the Turkish republic, his absence was felt in every field of Jewish life. After a long interval Turkish Jewry decided to elect another ḥakham bashi, and R. Raphael David Saban was appointed to head the chief rabbinate (1953–60). He was succeeded by R. David *Asseo in 1960 and R. Isak *Haleva. The ḥakham bashi is assisted by a religious council consisting of a rosh bet din (also bearing the title mara de-atra) and four ḥakhamim. The lay council of the ḥakham bashi deals with secular-social matters concerning the Jewish community; it consists of 19 members (Sephardim and Ashkenazim). Together they support communal institutions such as synagogues, hospitals, cemeteries, old age homes, and schools.
Jewish Communal Schools
Turkish Jewry maintained its own educational institutions. However, the syllabus in all of them was the same as in government schools. When state opposition to religion was reduced (1948), Jews were permitted to teach Hebrew and religion in their schools (for following the prayers). The Turkish government forbade all Zionist activity as well as the existence of organizations with centers abroad which propagated non-Turkish nationalism. Since most Jewish children attended school, illiteracy fell, and almost all of them spoke and read Turkish, although most of them also spoke Ladino.
In the 1920s and 1930s Istanbul had eight Jewish communal schools for boys and girls together and one high school (founded in 1922 as Lycée Juif by the *B'nai B'rith Lodge); their number has decreased since. The Turkish language was the compulsory medium of instruction in all state schools, and in private schools at the primary level. The Jewish schools obtained permission to give one course in elementary Hebrew, needed for reciting the prayers, but not to give instruction in Jewish history and literature. Hebrew studies were de-emphasized as a result of a 1932 law which forbade religious instruction in all Turkish schools.
Abraham *Galanté was one of the enthusiastic supporters of the spread of Turkish and one of the sponsors of replacing the Arabic script by the Latin alphabet (1928). Ladino periodicals, which had previously appeared in Hebrew script, began to be printed in Latin characters; one, in Istanbul, was La Vera Luz (edited by Eliezer Menda), later closed down. Shalom, first edited by Avram Leyon, continues, but only some of its articles were in Ladino, the rest in Turkish. A third, Etoile du Lévant, published in French, ceased in 1948. The monthly periodical (later a quarterly) Hamenorah, published by the B'nai B'rith (1923–38) and edited by David Marcus in three languages (Hebrew, Ladino, and French), carried many important articles concerning the history of Ottoman Jewry. Present-day Jewish writers publish their works in Turkish or French. The Jewish
The Maḥazikei Torah institutions provided religious instruction (and elementary Hebrew language courses) in the evenings and Sunday mornings (Sunday being the official rest day in the Turkish republic) for Jewish boys and girls who attended the Turkish state schools where no Hebrew was taught. There were about 2,000 pupils in these institutions. The Maḥazikei Torah also trained religious functionaries: ḥazzanim, shoḥatim, mohalim. Turkish Jewry also had a rabbinical seminary. It was established in Istanbul in 1955, and about 50 students were registered in the mid-1960s, some of whom were awarded rabbinic ordination. After years of general decline in Jewish life this indicated noticeable progress and a reaction to the general apathy in Jewish education. Izmir is the second largest Jewish community in modern Turkey, with approximately 2,000 Jewish inhabitants (2005). It had two Jewish elementary schools and a secondary one. Other communities were too small to have their own schools.
The usual Jewish philanthropic and social institutions also existed in Istanbul and Izmir: orphanages, hospitals, assistance for poor, etc., all supervised by the Türkiye Hahambashiligˇi, the chief rabbinate of Turkey (letter from the ḥakham bashi dated Aug. 3, 1965).
Ashkenazim and Sephardim
Of Turkey's Jews in 1969, about 95 percent were Sephardim, the rest Ashkenazim, called lehli, the Turkish name for Poles, because during the 17th and 18th centuries the Ashkenazi immigrants had come from Poland. Later, however, there was Ashkenazi immigration from Austria; the German-speaking Austrian Jews formed the elite of the community, and the Great Synagogue built by them became known as the "Oesterreichischer Tempel." Their last officiating rabbi, David Marcus, was born in Russia, studied in Germany, and then settled in Istanbul (1900–44). After his death the congregation remained without a rabbi and went into a decline, being in danger of complete disintegration, although their percentage in the Jewish population increased somewhat. The older generation of Sephardi Jews continued to speak *Ladino, in which language they produced sacred literature, and since the 19th century published many periodicals. In the 1955 census 64 percent among the Jews declared that their mother tongue was Yahudice (Ladino) compared with 84 percent in 1927, but knowledge of Ladino decreased. Neither the Jews nor the Greeks mastered the Turkish language until, under the new regime, it was introduced into the schools and the younger generation learned to speak, read, and write it fluently.
Since all the *Karaite Jews of Egypt left for Israel during the 1950s, as did the remnants of the Karaite community in Hith (Iraq), the Karaite community in Istanbul remained the last in non-Communist Europe. There were about 200 Karaite families (1,000 persons) in Hasköy, a suburb of Istanbul, whose forefathers settled in the city in Byzantine times. They established their own synagogue and cemetery and were completely separated from the Jewish Rabbanite community. They did not intermarry with Rabbanites, with whom the only link was a Rabbanite mohel whom they too employed for circumcisions. Their rabbi, Isaac Kerimi, came from the Crimea. Many Karaites spoke Greek. Their attitude toward Israel was neutral, or even unfriendly.
[Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg and
Hayyim J. Cohen]
In general, the 1980s were a period of well-being for the Jewish community in Turkey. In spite of increasing Islamic fundamentalist trends and economic difficulties due to high inflation, the Jews of Turkey witnessed a demographic growth, an improvement of the relations between the authorities and the community, and a visible awakening of Jewish identity among the members of the community.
The traumatic event of the decade to hit the community, which is usually out of the spotlight, occurred on September 6, 1986, when Arab gunmen attacked worshipers in Istanbul's Neveh Shalom synagogue during Sabbath morning services. Nineteen of the congregation, two of them Israelis, were killed in the massacre, as were the two gunmen who apparently blew themselves up. A wave of horror ran through the world and condemnations were heard on all sides, while the subsequent funeral became a protest demonstration. The Turkish prime minister, Turgut Özal, immediately called an emergency cabinet meeting and sent a message of condemnation and sympathy to the chief rabbi of Turkey, David Asseo. A subsequent government statement linked the murderers to *Iran and pro-Iranian terror organizations. The synagogue was restored and reinaugurated the following year. A monument in memory of the victims was dedicated at the Ulus/Istanbul cemetery in 1989. In another bomb outrage in 1992, an Israeli diplomat was killed.
In spite of pressures created by the gradual revival of the Islamic spirit in the country, the Turkish government has shown a close interest in the problems of the Jewish community and encouraged direct personal contacts to develop between it and the leaders of the community. Unprecedented permission was granted to Jews by allowing members of the community to take part in the meetings of the World Jewish Congress (WJC). However, this permission marks the only instance, with the exception of *Morocco, of a Muslim government allowing its Jews to participate in a worldwide Jewish activity; it is valid solely for the WJC but applies to no other international Jewish organization, and has been granted on condition of the Turkish community's not
Synagogues, as well as property owned by the community, are considered as vakif ("foundations") by Turkish law, and all foundations in Turkey, non-Muslim and Muslim alike, are subject to the control and regulations of the vakif. Jewish communities have felt the effect of these regulations in their efforts to obtain firm and autonomous possession of their patrimony. By the existing regulations, communities are regarded merely as administrators and not as absolute owners of their immovable property. In the event of Jewish population movement, either within the cities or to the suburbs, if Jewish community real estate remains in the area where Jews no longer live, it is forfeited by the community to the vakif administration.
Two main events marked Jewish communal life during the latter part of this period: the reorganization in March 1989 of the Lay Council of the Chief Rabbinate and the positive approach of the Turkish authorities to Jewish communal problems.
Through the reorganization of the Lay Council, communal affairs have been taken over by a younger and more dynamic group which adopted a bolder attitude in solving problems. Both the 80-member General Assembly of the Council and its 15-member Executive Committee include representatives from even the smallest Jewish congregations all over the country. The Chief Rabbinate has thus gained authority and jurisdiction over all the Jews of Turkey; previously its authority was practically limited to Istanbul and was often subject to the whims and goodwill of the communities in other cities.
The new Lay Council also succeeded in establishing closer relations with the authorities which, parallel to the changing international political developments, have been inclined to view the problems of the Jewish community from a more positive angle. As a result of this approach a number of developments beneficial to the community have been achieved: the permission to transfer the Jewish lycée and primary school in Istanbul to an area where Jews had moved during the last 20 years, for which permission had been requested ten years ago and been left pending, was granted; a law passed six years earlier rendering the teaching of Islamic religion an obligatory part of the curriculum in all primary and secondary schools was abolished; talmud torah education in synagogues was officially allowed; a special foundation to commemorate and celebrate the 500th anniversary of the arrival on Turkish-Ottoman soil of Jews fleeing the Inquisition was created jointly by Muslim and Jewish citizens with the support of the government; and a disused synagogue, the Zülfaris, is being turned into a Jewish museum, the only one of its kind in a Muslim country, where Jews constitute less than 5 per 10,000 of the general population; and for the first time ever, Jewish sportsmen were officially authorized to take part in the 1991 Maccabi games in Marseilles under the Turkish flag.
Immigration to Israel has almost ceased while the number of Jews who had moved to Israel but decided to return to Istanbul in particular has increased considerably. Further, the improved political and social conditions in Turkey have resulted in a sense of security for Jews, and the number of births has risen. The Jewish population grew from 22,000 to 27,000, of whom 2,000 live in Izmir; a few hundred are scattered over western Turkey; and the rest reside in Istanbul. (Censuses do not state the religion of citizens so it is difficult to determine exact figures.) Roughly 1,000 Turkish Jews are Ashkenazim; the rest Sephardim. The two groups live in complete harmony and all communal welfare institutions are administered jointly by members of both rites. There is only one Ashkenazi synagogue in all Turkey. The religious activities of the two rites are run by the Sephardi chief rabbinate and bet din which satisfactorily fulfill Ashkenazi needs.
Economically most of the Turkish Jews continued to be rather well off, except for some 300 families who were partly or totally supported by the community. However, Jews in general suffered due to the rampant inflation in the 1990s (a limited number of prominent businessmen constituting an exception).
Members of the community have displayed a marked return to religion and traditions and a keener Jewish consciousness. The number of people who have voluntarily offered to take an active part in communal work and assume their obligations toward the community has grown. The weekly paper Shalom, the publication of which had been stopped as a result of its former owner's illness and death, has been taken over by a group of young people who have succeeded in increasing its circulation to 5,000 (thus turning it into a paper read in almost every Jewish household) and giving special emphasis to the revival of Ladino. About one third of the contents of the paper is in *Ladino and the younger generation has begun to show a greater interest in the language.
A new club was founded to serve the Jewish residents of fashionable quarters on the Asian coast of Istanbul, where almost a fourth of the Jewish population lives, and its new building with sports, recreation, and cultural facilities was inaugurated in 1987. A trend of more intense searching for a Jewish identity has emerged among the younger generation and a greater number of people of all ages are volunteering for communal work. However, in spite of the sociocultural revival, the number of intermarriages has increased and has been put at ten percent.
The chief rabbi (ḥakham bashi) is the official leader and representative of Turkish Jewry. He is assisted by a Religious Council (bet din) and the Lay Council. In contrast to its glorious past of world-famous rabbis and religious scholars, the community is beginning to feel the shortage of qualified rabbis and other religious functionaries. The only kasher restaurant closed when its owner retired.
Jews continue to be politically inactive in the country. As in the past, this is due both to their insignificant numbers as well as to their reluctance to take part in politics. While the majority of Jews voted for the middle-right Motherland Party in power during the 1986 elections, a religious party advocating
The approval by the authorities and their encouragement of the decision to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the settling of the Sephardi Jews on Turkish-Ottoman soil in 1492 was a high point in Jewish communal life. To celebrate the anniversary a series of national and international symposiums, publications, the creation of a Jewish museum and concerts of local Jewish music were prepared for 1990, with the climax in 1992. (See also *Sephardim.)
Relations with Israel
In the 1947 UN General Assembly, Turkey voted against the partition of Palestine and the creation of a Jewish state out of Muslim solidarity and also because of its interest in the continued existence of British positions in the Middle East in the event of a Soviet attack. When the State of Israel became a reality, however, Turkey extended to Israel de jure recognition in November 1949, and agreed to the establishment of diplomatic relations. Legations were established and relations between the two countries developed satisfactorily. A commercial agreement in July 1950 facilitated trade relations based on the complementary character of the two countries' economies. An air-transport agreement was signed in February 1951 inaugurating regular Lydda-Istanbul flights by El Al and Turkish Airlines. The Turkish maritime company also initiated passenger and cargo lines to Israel. Israeli contracting firms started working in Turkey, and cultural relations also developed.
The Democratic Party, which came to power in May 1950, slowed down (especially from 1952) the pace of strengthening relations with Israel. It initiated a policy of rapprochement with the Arab countries in order to form a regional defense treaty and to please religious elements within Turkey. The level and scope of relations with Israel were reduced mainly after the signing of the Baghdad Pact with Iraq in February 1955. In December 1956, a few weeks after the *Sinai Campaign, Turkey recalled its minister from Israel, leaving its legation under a chargé d'affaires, and asked Israel to reciprocate. This step was a compromise, as Turkey resisted Arab pressure to sever diplomatic relations with Israel. When Iraq withdrew from the Baghdad Pact in 1959 after the revolutionary coup of 1958, Turkey again changed its attitude vis-à-vis Israel. The ousting of the Democratic Party from power in May 1960 also contributed to the improvement of relations between the two countries. Official visits, some of them at the level of cabinet ministers, were exchanged, and close cooperation began in technical assistance. This stage came to an end following the intercommunal riots in Cyprus in 1963–64. Turkey needed Arab support at the UN and decided to reduce its relations with Israel to a minimum, limiting them mainly to the economic sphere. (In 1969, for example, Israel exported $2,000,000 worth of chemicals, medicaments, and paint to Turkey and imported $4,700,000 worth of sugar, dried fruits, and lentils.) After the Six-Day War (1967), Turkey called for "the establishment of a just and lasting peace" in the Middle East, declaring its opposition to the acquisition of territories by force. It demanded that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories and that there be no change in the status of *Jerusalem. In 1971, the Israel consul in Istanbul, Ephraim Elrom, was kidnapped and after a few days was found murdered. The Turkish government ascribed the crime to extreme left-wing circles whose action was directed not only against Israel but also against the Turkish regime.
The years from 1967 to the present may be divided into two: the period which ended in the late 1980s and the second one that continued into the early 21st century. The first period was characterized by official alienation towards Israel by Turkey, culminating in November 1980 in the downgrading of diplomatic relations to the level of junior chargés d'affaires. This happened as a result of the Israeli Knesset's decision to apply Israeli law to the eastern parts of Jerusalem (held by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War). The pressure of Arab countries, loans and credits from *Saudi Arabia, and large quantities of cheap oil from Iran, *Libya, and *Iraq persuaded Turkey to adopt this position. Turkey supported the Arab position that the occupation of lands in the June 1967 war, including East Jerusalem and the Muslim holy places, amounted to aggression. In October 1973 Ankara refused to grant the right of passage through its airspace, and landing facilities, to American cargo planes that carried urgent supplies to Israel during the October 1973 war; Turkey did, however, allow Russian weapon convoys to cross its territory on their way to *Syria.
This pattern of relations continued until the late 1980s. However, three processes helped change the relations and the atmosphere of alienation. A sharp decrease in energy prices resulted in the Arab countries' losing their ability to exert pressure on Turkey's foreign policy. The second process was the collapse of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Thus, relations with Israel were no longer a component of the Cold War, to be used as an asset for communism or the Arab states against anybody who had decided to improve relations with Israel, or as a threat of punishment against anyone upgrading relations with Israel. The third process that encouraged Turkey to improve relations with Israel was the withdrawal of Israel from much of southern Lebanon (1985), the Madrid Conference (1991), and the ensuing thaw in Arab-Israeli relations, culminating in the Oslo accords (1993) between Israel and the Palestinians and the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan (1994). Another component that brought about greater cooperation between Israel and Turkey was the growing influence of Muslim radicalism and threats to the Middle Eastern status quo emanating, respectively, from Iran and Iraq. As a result the 1990s were marked by dramatic changes in Turkish-Israeli relations. Cooperation and contacts were conducted openly, a sharp contrast to the previous period, which was marked mostly by secret and clandestine
The coming to power in Turkey of the Muslim Justice and Development Party (AKP) in November 2002, the war in Iraq which erupted in March 2003, and the December 2004 decision of the EU to conduct membership negotiations with Turkey (to begin in October 2005) provided new inputs to Turkish-Israeli relations. The worsening of relations (as from the year 2000) between Israel and the Palestinians also detrimentally affected Turkish-Israeli relations. Unlike Israel, which supported the American war in Iraq, Turkey opposed it and looked with great concern at the Iraqi mayhem and the possible disintegration of that country into its ethnic components. Turkey repeatedly voiced concern lest a Kurdish entity be established in northern Iraq. Even more, the growing interaction between Ankara and the EU resulted, inter alia, in Turkish policies and statements vis-à-vis Israel and the Palestinians which resemble those of the EU. And while the basic pattern of the bilateral cooperation has not changed – economic, cultural, and military contacts continue to improve, even to thrive; Ankara supported the Israeli disengagement from the *Gaza Strip; high-level contacts are routinely conducted (in August 2005 Turkey used its good offices to mediate between Israel and Pakistan and arranged the first public meeting between the foreign secretaries of the two states) – still, occasionally, Turkey openly criticizes certain Israeli measures in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
[Amikam Nachmani (2nd ed.)]
Jewish Musical Tradition
The arrival of the waves of Jews expelled from Spain in the newly established Ottoman Empire marks a turning point in the history of this country's Jewish musical life. The newcomers brought with them a rich musical tradition, which they continued to preserve and cultivate jealously in the new environment. Their contact with the highly developed Turkish art music as well as with the vestiges of the Romaniot-Byzantine musical style gave rise to an interesting situation in which the Turkish and Sephardi styles became subsequently the two dominant strains of the diverse musical activities in the major cities of the Ottoman Empire. The Byzantine style that characterized the music of old Romaniot communities of Constantinople, Bursa, Adrianople and others continued to be preserved among the Karaites of the Hasköy district of Constantinople and much more overtly in the area where Greek is still the spoken language: at Ioanina, Chalkis, Arta, and Patras. One may even assume that even after the great changes the Byzantine style did not disappear without leaving some traces.
THE COEXISTENCE OF TWO DIFFERENT STYLES
The Spanish Jews continued to maintain a distinctive Judeo-Spanish idiom for secular purposes and Hebrew and Ladino for liturgical functions, and maintained the musical repertory of the Spanish tradition with a remarkable persistence. The latter has been prominent mainly in secular life, and to a lesser extent in liturgical and paraliturgical instances, and essentially became the province of women in the new environment. Jewish women were not involved in the performance of Turkish classical music, and as a rule they did not take part in the liturgical practice. Nevertheless, some daughters of rabbis and cantors involved in the religious activities of their fathers were proficient in the singing of synagogal pieces in the men's ornamented and nasalizing Turkish style.
THE TURKISH STYLE IN SYNAGOGAL MUSIC
The fervent identification of the Jews with the Turkish art music style as a vehicle leading the worshipers to religious elevation and compassion, known as ḥizzun (a derivative from the Arabic ḥuzn, meaning sadness and introspection), appears in a statement made by the religious scholar, kabbalist, and talented poet-musician rabbi Menahem di *Lonzano (1550–before 1624). In the preface to his collection of piyyutim set to Turkish tunes (published about 1575 in Constantinople, probably his birthplace) he claims that he found the Turkish tunes "to be the expression of a broken and contrite heart." In the 19th century, Rabbi Moses Hazzan, who served in Jerusalem's High Religious Court, reports in his book Kerekh shel Romi (Livorno, 1886, fol. 72) the following astonishing testimony, which may imply the influence of Turkish-Byzantine style:
Interestingly, the aforementioned Rabbi Abraham Ariash made a name as a composer of 80 Turkish musical pieces in different modes and was known as hadje-i beskusar ("a consummate master").
The singing of piyyutim in the framework of the normative liturgy music as well as all other types of religious rituals, such as that of the maftirim (see below), is only one aspect of synagogal music; the other concerns the recitation of the prayer and the cantillation of Holy Scriptures. While the latter realizes only partially and in a floating manner the melodic content of the *Maqam principles, such as the use of Maqam Sika for the reading of the Torah and various other maqamat for the Sabbath prayers' recitation, the singing of the piyyutim fully adheres to the Turkish maqam system. The Jews also adhere to the related doctrine of ethos and its psychological influence; cantors and readers of the sacred texts frequently relate the tune to an emotive term, and to the typical intonations characterizing the voice inflections and timbres of the Turkish performing style.
Solomon Mazal Tov published the earliest Hebrew collection of sung piyyutim: Shirim u-Zemirot ve-Tishbaḥot (Constantinople, 1545).
The Maftirim. At Edirne (Adrianople), a choral society of Maftirim was founded in the 17th century; it developed an extensive repertoire paralleling the *Bakkashot tradition of the mystic circles in Aleppo, Morocco, and elsewhere. They used in their celebrations of the Sabbath a book of piyyutim called jonk, the term being derived from Turkish/Persian conk, which is similar to the Arabic diwan, meaning a collection of poetry. The activity and the reputation of the Maftirim society helped Adrianople become a center for hymn writers and composers. Among the best known were composer Aaron ben Isaac Hamon (18th c.); Joseph Danon (d. 1901), who collected and published in 1896 a large repertoire of Ladino folksongs from Adrianople; and Isaac Eliahu Navon (b. 1859). Navon was a prominent personality in the community and a member of the choir society of the Maftirim. He moved with his parents at the age of 18 to Istanbul where he composed poems and hymns; he gathered and edited a collection of old piyyutim of Jewish poets, Shirat Ẓiyyon be-Ereẓ ha-Kedem (Istanbul, 1921), which reflects the choral repertory of the Maftirim from Edirne. At the age of 70, Eliahu Navon immigrated to Ereẓ Israel where he published his collection Yinnon (Jerusalem, 1937), including both religious and secular compositions; some of his songs became part of Israeli folk song.
The repertory of the Maftirim is modeled after the Turkish classical multisectional fasil (lit. "section"). This prestigious form seems to have grown from the eastern nawba. It was customary to perform a fixed sequence of pieces of different genres, allowing a certain amount of freedom to introduce new combinations.
THE MUSICAL ACTIVITY IN IZMIR
Izmir was an important center of a rich Jewish musical life from the 17th through the 20th century. In his book Histoire des Juifs d'Anatolie (vol. 1, 163–67) Abraham Galanté mentioned several Jewish musicians who made a name as proficient composers and performers in the Turkish society. They include Hakham Yomtov Danon (17th century) known among the Turks as "the little Hakham"; the aforementioned Rabbi Abraham Ariash; the composer and santur (trapezoidal cithara) player Elia Levy; the violinist Isaac Barki; composer Shemtov Shikiar, known among the Turks as Hodja Santo; and Salomon Algazi, a noted ḥazzan and composer known among the Turks as Salomon the Nightingale, thanks to his most beautiful voice. He is the father of the famous ḥazzan and composer Isaac *Algazi (1882–1964). At an early age Isaac joined the Maftirim Choir led by his father and served as ḥazzan in his native town. His performing style as a ḥazzan and singer of secular pieces was highly expressive, enhanced by a moving and pleasant voice. He also became proficient in Turkish art music and a noted performer of classical Turkish music; Ataturk invited him to sing at his palace. Among his pupils was another native of Izmir, composer and musicologist Alberto *Hemsi who published in 1924–5 five notated groups of piyyutim organized in the form of Fasil (a Turkish suite). Isaac Algazi ended his life in Uruguay. A selection of Isaac Algazi's poetry has been published in Shirei Yisrael be-Ereẓ ha-Kedem (1921).
In dealing with the various Jewish societies in Izmir, Galanté refers to the activity during the 18th and 19th centuries of a unique society, largely supported by charity, called La Dansa. It involved a group of singers and dancers whose function was to gladden poor newly married couples in their house on Sabbath afternoon. To avoid the interdiction of playing instruments on the day of Sabbath, they used to accompany their singing and dancing with a copper plate on which they beat the rhythm. Some religious authorities expressed dissatisfaction with this practice, while others justified it by virtue of the mitzvah "To gladden the bridegroom and bride" (ibid., p. 93).
[Amnon Shiloah (2nd ed.)]
Galanté, Histoire des Juifs d'Anatolie, 1–2 (1937–39); D.J. Elazar (ed.) et al., Balkan Jewish Communities: Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey (1984); N. Nathan, in: JJSO, 6 (1964), 172–89; B. Lewis, Emergence of Modern Turkey (1961); Revue encyclopédique juive, 4:18 (1970); N. Robinson, in: J. Freid (ed.), Jews in Modern World, 1 (1962), 50–90; A. Tartakower, Shivtei Yisrael 3 (1969), 253–8. ADD BIBLIOGRAPHY: The best bibliography on Jews in the Republic of Turkey is R.N. Bali, Türkiye'de Yayinlanmiş Yahudilikle ilgili kitab, tez ve makaleler bibliyografyasi 1923–2003 (2004). See also: B. Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (1960); J.M. Landau, Tekinalp: Turkish Patriot (1984); idem, "Comments on the Jewish Press in Istanbul," in: Etudes Balkaniques, 2 (1990), 78–82; idem, "Turkish-Israeli Cultural and Scientific Relations," in: Ali Ihsan Bagiş (ed.), Actual Situation and Prospects of Turkey's Bilateral Relations with Israel (1992), 85–96; S.J. Shaw, The Jews of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic (1991); A. Levi, Toledot ha-Yehudim ba-Republikah ha-Turkit (1992); N. Güleryüz, Türk Yahudileri tarihi (1993); E.J. Zürcher, Turkey: A Modern History (1997); R.N. Bali, Cummhuriyet yillarinda Türkiye Yahudileri (1999); idem, Les Relations entre Turcs et Tuifs dans la Turquie moderne (2001); M. Tütüneü (ed.), Turkish-Jewish Encounters (2001); G.E. Gruen, "Turkey," in: R.S. Simon et al. (eds.), The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in Modern Times (2003), 303–15; Sh. Tuval, Ha-Kehillah ha-Yehudit be-Istanbul 1948 – 1992 (2004); A. Nachmani, Turkey Facing A New Millennium (2003); O. Bengio, The Turkish-Israeli Relationship (2004). JEWISH MUSICAL TRADITION: A. Galanté, Histoire des Juifs d'Anatolie, 2 vols.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.