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Zülfaris Synagogue
Quincentanial Jewish Museum

The name of the synagogue comes from the street of the synagogue: Zulf-U Arus. Zulf-u Arus in old Turkish means the fringe of a bride. Because most of the Jewish weddings were held in this temple, the street was name the fringe of a bride. Today the street is called Percemli Sokak, which has the same meaning in modern Turkish. The Zulfaris synagogue, constructed in 1823, was recorded as Kal Kados Galata. This temple was constructed in the place of another synagogue from 1671. The building of today was opened on the 31st October 1823.
In 1890, with the financial support of the Kamondo family, the building went through major restorations. In 1904, the interior of the temple was restored. The citation on the frame of the Ehal constructed in 1882 says:
"This Ehal was built by Samuel Malki with the wealth of his father Hayim Malki, September 1882"
In 1856, the Zulfaris synagogue was visited by Albert Calin, This visit was made in the memory of the Jewish soldiers who died in the Crimean War. The 24 January 1909, the election of the Chief Rabbi Haim Naum Efendi took place in this synagogue. In 1962, the synagogue went through another restoration process. Starting from November 1978, the Zulfaris synagogue was only opened on Saturdays for Sabbath prayers. On the September 1979, the synagogue was given to the Jewish congregation of Edirne. Later in the same year the temple was shut down.
In 1992, because of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Jewish migration from Spain during the Inquisition, to the Quincentenial Foundation and was restored to be the Jewish Museum. The museum was opened 25 November 2001.
At the entrance courtyard of the museum, there is a statue made by the Jewish sculptor Nadia Arditi, intitulated "The Rising Fire". The statue was made in the memory of the Turkish Jewish soldiers who died during the salvation war. The best proof of the loyalty the Turkish Jews had for their country is the blood they spread for its independence. They didn't only defend their country by fighting for it. Depending their social and professional statue, they also provided financial and tactical support.
The upper floor of the temple is used today as the main museum. Next to the entrance of this floor, there is a computer screen showing the Jewish communities on Turkish soil, during the different periods. On top of the computer, there is a photo of a tallit with a crescent and a star. This tallit shows the integration of the Turkish symbols in to the religious objects of the Turkish Jewish community. This tallit was made in Baghdad and the original is in new York. The visit of the museum starts from left. On the first display, the Golden Age of the European Jew, their expulsion from Spain and other European countries. Their arrival to the Ottoman Empire is described. On the same display, there is also a copy of the letter written by the Chief Rabbi of Edirne to the German Jewish community explaining them the conditions of the Jews on ottoman soil and inviting them to live on Ottoman soil.
The second display is reserved to the Blood Rebels. The Blood Rebels first came up at the end of the Middle Age. The slander consisted of the Jews putting the blood of the young Christian children in the Passover bread. Even it is forbidden for the Jews to eat blood, between 16th to 19th centuries, many countries in Europe, Jews were punished by the death penalty because of those accusations. In 1530, the Jews of Amasya and later, the Jews of Tokat were subject to those accusations. When the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent learned about those cases of Blood Rebels, he published a law ordering that all the cases concerning the Jews living on Ottoman soil, would be treated by him. The local judges called "Kadi" were not allowed to treat those cases. Several Sultans published similar laws to protect the different Jewish communities. After the incidents of Damascus and Rhodes in 1840, Sultan Abdulmecid published a law in 1841 and after the incidents of 1865, Sultan Abdulaziz, 1866 published a similar law. Most of the time, the Blood Rebel s accusations were made by different Christian communities for economical purposes. As they could not compete with the Jews, they would use those slanders.
After the two display showing the Torahs and other religious objects where the Turkish symbols were used, in the middle, the Ehal of the Zulfaris synagogue with a Torah inside. In Judaism, there is no hierarchic religious organization like in Christianity. This is the reason why there is no religious and spiritual leader for all the Jews in the World (like the pope). Every community has its own Chief Rabbi. After the conquest of Istanbul, the last Chief rabbi of the Byzantine empire, Mose Kapsali, became the Chief Rabbi of the capital of the Ottoman Empire. As Istanbul was not the only city In the Empire with a large Jewish population, every city with a Jewish Community had its own Chief Rabbi. On the last board before the Ehal, the history of the Chief Rabbinate and the "Tayin Beraati" the assignment order of the Chief Rabbi of Bursa with his seal and the Mecidiye medal he received are displayed.
On the right sides displays, the roles of the Ottoman Jews in different domains are explained. On the first board, the histories of the Jewish print houses are displayed. The Sepharads coming from Spain left behind them all their belongings but they brought with them their knowledge. The first print house was built in 1493 in Istanbul by the Nahmiyas brothers.
The Jews were active in every field. On the second, third and fourth displays, the work they have done in classical Turkish music, the sportive achievements and the role they played on the political arena are explained.
The last display on the right is the most important one. Very few people know the sacrifices and efforts made by Ataturk's Turkey and its diplomats to save the Jews of Europe from the laws of the German totalitarian regime. Everything started with a letter from Albert Einstein to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk asking him to help the leading Jewish scientists kicked out from their universities because of their ethnical background. Ataturk offered to those scientist the opportunity to continue their carriers in Turkish universities. When Hitler learned about the efforts of Ataturk, he sent, on 8 May 1933 a message asking him to not accept those people to Turkey. Ataturk's answer was brief:
"I cannot let a corporal make me part of his murders."
During the second World War, Turkey was neutral. The Turkish diplomats serving in Europe tried at the beginning of the war to defend the rights of the Jews with Turkish background living in occupied countries. Soon they realized that they also had to defend their right to live.
The entrance floor of the museum is the Ethnographic section. Traditions of the Turkish Jews are explained in detail in this section. The Quincentenial Jewish museum is not only a museum but also a history book in lighting the last period of the Ottoman Jews and the early period of the Turkish Republic Jewish communities.
The name of the synagogue comes from the street of the synagogue: Zulf-U Arus. Zulf-u Arus in old Turkish means the fringe of a bride. Because most of the Jewish weddings were held in this temple, the street was name the fringe of a bride. Today the street is called Percemli Sokak, which has the same meaning in modern Turkish. The Zulfaris synagogue, constructed in 1823, was recorded as Kal Kados Galata. This temple was constructed in the place of another synagogue from 1671. The building of today was opened on the 31st October 1823. In 1890, with the financial support of the Kamondo family, the building went through major restorations. In 1904, the interior of the temple was restored. The citation on the frame of the Ehal constructed in 1882 says:
"This Ehal was built by Samuel Malki with the wealth of his father Hayim Malki, September 1882"
In 1856, the Zulfaris synagogue was visited by Albert Calin, This visit was made in the memory of the Jewish soldiers who died in the Crimean War. The 24 January 1909, the election of the Chief Rabbi Haim Naum Efendi took place in this synagogue. In 1962, the synagogue went through another restoration process. Starting from November 1978, the Zulfaris synagogue was only opened on Saturdays for Sabbath prayers. On the September 1979, the synagogue was given to the Jewish congregation of Edirne. Later in the same year the temple was shut down.
In 1992, because of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Jewish migration from Spain during the Inquisition, to the Quincentenial Foundation and was restored to be the Jewish Museum. The museum was opened 25 November 2001.
At the entrance courtyard of the museum, there is a statue made by the Jewish sculptor Nadia Arditi, intitulated "The Rising Fire". The statue was made in the memory of the Turkish Jewish soldiers who died during the salvation war. The best proof of the loyalty the Turkish Jews had for their country is the blood they spread for its independence. They didn't only defend their country by fighting for it. Depending their social and professional statue, they also provided financial and tactical support.
The upper floor of the temple is used today as the main museum. Next to the entrance of this floor, there is a computer screen showing the Jewish communities on Turkish soil, during the different periods. On top of the computer, there is a photo of a tallit with a crescent and a star. This tallit shows the integration of the Turkish symbols in to the religious objects of the Turkish Jewish community. This tallit was made in Baghdad and the original is in new York. The visit of the museum starts from left. On the first display, the Golden Age of the European Jew, their expulsion from Spain and other European countries. Their arrival to the Ottoman Empire is described. On the same display, there is also a copy of the letter written by the Chief Rabbi of Edirne to the German Jewish community explaining them the conditions of the Jews on ottoman soil and inviting them to live on Ottoman soil.
The second display is reserved to the Blood Rebels. The Blood Rebels first came up at the end of the Middle Age. The slander consisted of the Jews putting the blood of the young Christian children in the Passover bread. Even it is forbidden for the Jews to eat blood, between 16th to 19th centuries, many countries in Europe, Jews were punished by the death penalty because of those accusations. In 1530, the Jews of Amasya and later, the Jews of Tokat were subject to those accusations. When the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent learned about those cases of Blood Rebels, he published a law ordering that all the cases concerning the Jews living on Ottoman soil, would be treated by him. The local judges called "Kadi" were not allowed to treat those cases. Several Sultans published similar laws to protect the different Jewish communities. After the incidents of Damascus and Rhodes in 1840, Sultan Abdulmecid published a law in 1841 and after the incidents of 1865, Sultan Abdulaziz, 1866 published a similar law. Most of the time, the Blood Rebel s accusations were made by different Christian communities for economical purposes. As they could not compete with the Jews, they would use those slanders.
After the two display showing the Torahs and other religious objects where the Turkish symbols were used, in the middle, the Ehal of the Zulfaris synagogue with a Torah inside. In Judaism, there is no hierarchic religious organization like in Christianity. This is the reason why there is no religious and spiritual leader for all the Jews in the World (like the pope). Every community has its own Chief Rabbi. After the conquest of Istanbul, the last Chief rabbi of the Byzantine empire, Mose Kapsali, became the Chief Rabbi of the capital of the Ottoman Empire. As Istanbul was not the only city In the Empire with a large Jewish population, every city with a Jewish Community had its own Chief Rabbi. On the last board before the Ehal, the history of the Chief Rabbinate and the "Tayin Beraati" the assignment order of the Chief Rabbi of Bursa with his seal and the Mecidiye medal he received are displayed.
On the right sides displays, the roles of the Ottoman Jews in different domains are explained. On the first board, the histories of the Jewish print houses are displayed. The Sepharads coming from Spain left behind them all their belongings but they brought with them their knowledge. The first print house was built in 1493 in Istanbul by the Nahmiyas brothers.
The Jews were active in every field. On the second, third and fourth displays, the work they have done in classical Turkish music, the sportive achievements and the role they played on the political arena are explained.
The last display on the right is the most important one. Very few people know the sacrifices and efforts made by Ataturk's Turkey and its diplomats to save the Jews of Europe from the laws of the German totalitarian regime. Everything started with a letter from Albert Einstein to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk asking him to help the leading Jewish scientists kicked out from their universities because of their ethnical background. Ataturk offered to those scientist the opportunity to continue their carriers in Turkish universities. When Hitler learned about the efforts of Ataturk, he sent, on 8 May 1933 a message asking him to not accept those people to Turkey. Ataturk's answer was brief:
"I cannot let a corporal make me part of his murders."
During the second World War, Turkey was neutral. The Turkish diplomats serving in Europe tried at the beginning of the war to defend the rights of the Jews with Turkish background living in occupied countries. Soon they realized that they also had to defend their right to live.
The entrance floor of the museum is the Ethnographic section. Traditions of the Turkish Jews are explained in detail in this section. The Quincentenial Jewish museum is not only a museum but also a history book in lighting the last period of the Ottoman Jews and the early period of the Turkish Republic Jewish communities.
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