Turkish Jewish history includes both Sephardic and Ashkenazi elements. The majority of Sephardim arrived after the 1492 Expulsion from Spain, while the small Ashkenazi community dates to the 14th century.
During October, an exhibit and lecture program will be sponsored by Georgia State University’s Middle East Institute, Department of Religious Studies and Program in Jewish Studies.
“Under Vine and Fig Tree: 500 Years of Turkish Jewish History” will run from October 12-23, and will show images of artifacts and treasures from the Quincentennial Foundation Museum of Turkish Jews in Istanbul.
When Jews who refused to convert to Catholicism were expelled from Spain, Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II invited them to come to the Ottoman Empire, where some rose to prominent Ottoman Empire positions.
Some of the images in the exhibit will include that of the decree of Sultan Abdülmecid I in the 19th century railing against the “blood libel” that incited anti-Semitic beliefs across Europe and led to atrocities against Jews, as well as a menorah shaped as a minaret.
There will also be a lecture on Jewish contributions to Turkish society with Kennesaw State associate history professor Catherine Lewis, at 7pm October 20. The lecture, at Atlanta’s Congregation Or VeShalom, is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending should RSVP.
Exhibit co-sponsors include the Istanbul Center, Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum and the Southeast US Consulate General of Israel.