Naim Avigdor Güleryüz
This contribution starts from the Jewish immigration under the Ottoman sultan Beyazit II, who had welcomed the Sephardic Jews in his Empire. Less known is the fact that his predecessors Osman, Orhan and Mehmet Fatih, had protected and favored them in their capitals of Bursa, Edirne and Istanbul. The three centuries after the expulsion from Spain in 1492 are marked by the highest creativity and influence of the Ottoman Jews, not rarely in the Sultan’s service as diplomats or physicians. Various protagonists of Jewish history are remembered, some of which are analyzed in other essays of this volume. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish Republic distinguished itself by its protection of Jewish citizens and by Atatürk’s invitation to German Jewish intellectuals menaced by the Nazis to come to Turkey. Turkish diplomats’ efforts to save Jewish lives from the Holocaust are not left unmentioned. The contemporary Jewish presence in the Republic’s economy and culture is illustrated, among others, by the role played by the Museum of the Turkish Jews (Türk Musevileri Müzesi), established by the Quincentennial Foundation (500. Yıl Vakfı) that has contributed to strengthen the relations between Jewish and other Turkish citizens.