Jewish Journal

Jewish Museum in Istanbul

by Ruth Ellen Gruber

June 10, 2012 | 8:27 am

I just want to highlight a recent article in the Canadian Jewish News that describes the Jewish Museum of Turkey, which opened in Istanbul 11 years ago on the 500th anniversary of the expulsion of Jews from Spain—and arrival of Spanish Jews to the Ottoman Empire.

The museum is believed to be one of only two Jewish museums in a Muslim country—the other is in Casablanca, Morocco. Located in the former Zulfaris Synagogue the Istanbul Museum was founded by Naim Guleryuz, a 78-year-old retired lawyer and historian who has written and researched widely on Ottoman Jewish history and culture.

One of his books is a collaboration with photographer Izzet Keribar called The Synagogues in Turkey from Two Masters. Published in 2008 it is based on a photographic documentation of some 60 synagogues around Turkey, commissioned in 2005 by the president of the Turkish Jewish community.

Guleryuz was president of the Quincentennial Foundation, which was established in the late 1980s to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the flight of Jews from Spain to the Ottoman Empire.

Festivities took place in 1992 and cast a spotlight on this important historical event. Guleryuz, however, was reluctant to wind things down.

”We decided we needed a permanent exhibition,” he said in an interview in his cluttered office. “We needed a museum.”

After four years of preparation, the Jewish Museum of Turkey was finally opened. Since Nov. 25, 2001, an average of 10,000 visitors per year from Turkey and abroad have streamed inside. [...]

Visitors can view about 250 objects, documents and photographs, all illuminating the traditions and culture of Turkish Jews. The objects were drawn from family collections and auctions, mostly in Istanbul. Some 150 pieces are in storage, waiting to see the light of day.

See an expanding collection of links and resources on Jewish Turkey HERE

See archives for this blog at jewish-heritage-travel.blogspot.com



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The award-winning American writer Ruth Ellen Gruber has chronicled contemporary Jewish developments in Europe for more than two decades. As the author of National Geographic...

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