Tag Archives: Turkey

Short Novel about Turkish Jew Wins 2012 Leapfrog Press Award

Jane Mushabac’s novella about a Turkish Jew, The Hundred Year Old Man, has won Honorable Mention in the 2012 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest for manuscripts of novels, novellas, and short story collections. Writers in fifteen countries submitted over five hundred works to the contest.

From the Leapfrog Press website: “The Hundred Year Old Man is a short novel about a Turkish Jew born early in the 20th century in the fast deteriorating Ottoman Empire. He is from a city on the Strait of Dardanelles, a narrow waterway at the center of the world, dividing Europe from Asia.   In a time of war and scarcity, the main character seeks survival. He is looking for food and meaning. The book’s brief episodes go back and forth in time, and include glimpses of the countryside in early 1900s Turkey and the streetscapes of late 1900s New York.  <!–more–>

Jane Mushabac has had fellowships from the Mellon Foundation and Harvard University.  Her writing about Judeo-Spanish characters includes a radio play, Mazal Bueno, commissioned for NPR broadcast with Tovah Feldshuh in the lead, and a short story in Judeo-Spanish.  Her fiction has appeared in ChautauquaMidstreamConversations, and Sephardic Horizons and has been anthologized. A Short and Remarkable History of New York City, which she co-authored, was selected as a “Best of the Best” by the American Association of University Presses and is in its fifth printing. Her writing on Melville has appeared in an MLA anthology. Mushabac teaches creative writing at City University of New York, where she is associate professor of English.”

Playing with Peculiarity: Sephardic Migrations and the Ambiguity of National Identity

by Devi Mays, Ph.D. Candidate in History at Indiana University

Editor’s note: From time to time, we will feature original research essays  by emerging scholars in Sephardi-Mizrahi studies.  If you are an advanced graduate student or recent Ph.D. who would like to promote your work in this way, please contact Evelyn Dean-Olmsted.

It was the night of the second seder of Passover, and I was seated in the apartment of my friend’s grandmother in the upper-middle class Etiler district of Istanbul. The lights of the Akmerkez shopping mall twinkled in the April drizzle through the window behind me. Linda Hanım,[i] my gracious hostess and a vibrant woman in her late 80s, sat down on the couch next to me, and asked me what had dragged me to Turkey. After explaining that I was researching Ladino-speaking Sephardic immigrants to Mexico in the early 1900s, her face lit up. “Oh!” she exclaimed, “one of my uncles went to Mexico before I was born. He never came back to Turkey, so I never met him, but his daughter visited once. She stayed with me, and we shared the same name.” Speaking in a mixture of Turkish, French, and Ladino, generously peppered with English and Hebrew, Linda Hanım explained that her father had been one of five siblings from the small town of Silivri in eastern Thrace. Of these five, only her father had remained in Turkey, the other siblings having immigrated to the United States, Israel, and Mexico. Like many Jews from smaller towns in the Aegean littoral, her father had left his natal city to move to Istanbul, where Linda grew up in what several Turkish Jews described to me as the “judería” surrounding the Galata tower in Beyoğlu. This area, once known for its cosmopolitan mixture of Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Levantines, and Europeans, is now known for its burgeoning café culture, a flood of young people moving into turn-of-the-century buildings still bearing the names of long-absent Greek or Armenian architects, and cobblestone streets overflowing with eager tourists. Continue reading

New book: Turkish Sephardic cookbook

Beyhan Cagri Trock’s The Ottoman Turk and the Pretty Jewish Girl is a Turkish and Sephardic cookbook and a fascinating cultural and culinary memoir of the author’s family. Trock’s Jewish mother (Beti) and Muslim father (Zeki) immigrated to the United States from Istanbul, Turkey, in the late 1950s, bringing with them an incredibly rich culture, history, and cuisine. This book contains their story as well as 101 of the authentic Turkish and Sephardic recipes Beti and Zeki grew up with and cooked at home.

Read more about the book and the author here.

Gaziantep synagogue restoration nearing completion

The restoration of the historic synagogue in the city of Gaziantep (Southeast Turkey), initiated in 2010, is nearing completion.

The synagogue that originally could seat 500 people had fallen into a state of dilapidation after the community gradually abandoned Gaziantep in the 1980s.

Read the relevant article and an interview with the city’s mayor (in Turkish) in the Salom newspaper.