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July 06, 1990 - Image 49

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-07-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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the Ladino dialect and
music, had all but disap-
peared.
"What is most interesting
about the Turkish Jewish
experience is the intermingl-
ing of Jewish, Spanish and
Turkish culture and
customs," said Diane
Lerner, assistant curator of
Judaica at the Jewish Mu-
seum.
But Lerner contends that
Jews didn't always experi-
ence such tolerance and
egalitarianism in Ottoman
Turkey. "There were restric-
tions against Jews," she
said. "Jews and Christians
were second class to
Moslems. The sultans issued
discriminatory decrees
periodically."
It was forbidden, for ex-
ample, for Jews to wear the
sacred color green, and
white was restricted to use
in Moslem turbans. Some
rabbis actually directed
their congregants to
distinguish themselves from
non-Jews in their choice of
garments.
"In comparative terms, the
relationship between Jewish
and Moslem Turks was a
good one," said Miriam
Russo-Katz, associate cura-
tor in the Leo and Julia For-
chheimer Department of
Jewish Ethnography of the
Israel Museum, who resear-
ched, collected and organiz-
ed the exhibition.
"They lived for many cen-
turies there relatively safe-
ly. There were no pogroms.
But Jews lived in all Arab
countries relatively safely
until Israel was formed.
Some would say that Jews
lived there more safely than
Christians."
Katz found that Jewish
culture flourished in the Ot-
toman Empire only when
the empire was at its peak —
in the 16th and 17th cen-
turies.
World War I brought to a
final end the glory of the Ot-
toman Empire. But even the
young Turkish Republic,
with its secular constitution,
accorded minority rights to
the three principal non-
Moslem religious minorities.
Today, Turkish Jews,
numbering between 22,000
and 24,000, are virtually in-
distinguishable from non-
Jewish Turks. Western
styles of dress are worn,
Turkish is spoken and pri-
vate Turkish schools are at-
tended.

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