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 a primary school for 300 pupils and a secondary school for 250 students in Istanbul, and an elementary school for 140 children in Izmir. Turkish is the language of instruction, and Hebrew is taught 35 hours a week.

Jewish High School

While younger Jews speak Turkish as their native language, the older generation is more at home speaking in French or JudeoSpanish (Ladino). A conscious effort is spent to preserve the heritage of JudeoSpanish.

Salom Weekly Newspaper

For long years Turkish Jews have had their own press. La Buena Esperansa and La Puerta dew Oriente started in Izmir in 1843 and Or Israel started to be published in Istanbul ten years later. Now one newspaper survives: SALOM (Shalom), an eightpage weekly with seven pages written in Turkish and one in JudeoSpanish.

Or ha-Hayim Hospital

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 haHayim in Istanbul and the 22 bed Karatas Hospital 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 librairies, 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 which is 99% Moslem exceeds 57 million. But in spite of their number the Jews have distinguished themselves. There are several ewish professors teaching at the universities of Istanbul and Ankara, and many Turkish Jews are prominent in business, industry and the liberal professions.


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