The Jews of the Turkish Republic since 1923
Chief Rabbi Haim Bejerano. Chief Rabbi Haim Bejerano led Turkish Jewry into the Republican age as a strong supporter of the Turkish national movement, rejecting the efforts of the Christian minorities to gain Jewish support to drive the Turks out of Istanbul and much of Anatolia. Born in Eski Zagora, Bulgaria in 1846 while it was still under Ottoman rule and trained in traditional talmud torahs and yeshivas, he was a learned man in the broadest sense of the word. Unlike the reactionary rabbis who at the time were attacking members of the community turning toward the modern world, and particularly those who taught French to Jewish youth, he sought to broaden himself by mastering sixteen foreign languages, not only Hebrew and Judeo-Spanish but also Turkish, Arabic, Persian, French, German, English, Bulgarian, Italian, Latin, Rumanian, Sanscrit, Greek and Armenian. For thirty years he had served the Jewish community of Rusçuk, on the Danube, teaching among others the great historian of Ottoman Jewry, Solomon Rosanes. He then went to Vienna where he earned his rabbinate, subsequently settling in Bucharest as director of its Sephardic school. All the while he continued to expand his horizons through extensive correspondence with learned men throughout Europe, including Jules Simon and Ernest Renan, and made himself known to Ottoman Jews by publishing articles on a wide range of subjects in Istanbul’s most important Judeo-Spanish newspaper, El Tiempo.
KeywordsJewish Community Jewish Population Jewish Life Turkish Republic Jewish School
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