Turkish Jews in Israel
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Avital, Burgata, Geva Carmel, Givat Nili, Gvulot, HaGoshrim, Nahsholim, Tal Shahar, Yehud-Monosson
Hebrew (Main language for all generations);
Older generation: Turkish, Ladino
A group of new immigrants from Turkey arriving at Kibbutz Maabarot in 1943

Turkish Jews in Israel are immigrants and descendants of the immigrants of the Turkish Jewish communities, who now reside within the State of Israel. They number around 100,000-150,000.[2][1]


Ottoman Palestine

For centuries, the Jewish population of Ottoman Palestine was divided between two groups: Jewish subjects of the Turkish Sultan, who formed their own legal entity, and foreign pilgrims who lived largely on alms. During Ottoman times, the Jewish presence was concentrated to four cities.

Immigration history from Republic of Turkey

The immigration history of the Turkish Jews in Israel when the Republic of Turkey was established in 1923, Aliyah was not particularly popular amongst Turkish Jewry; migration from Turkey to Palestine was minimal in the 1920s.[3]

Between 1923 and 1948, approximately 7,300 Jews emigrated from Turkey to Mandatory Palestine.[4] After the 1934 Thrace pogroms following the 1934 Turkish Resettlement Law, immigration to Palestine increased; it is estimated that 521 Jews left for Palestine from Turkey in 1934 and 1,445 left in 1935.[5] Immigration to Palestine was organized by the Jewish Agency and the Palestine Aliya Anoar Organization. The Varlık Vergisi, a capital tax which occurred in 1942, was also significant in encouraging emigration from Turkey to Palestine; between 1943 and 1944, 4,000 Jews emigrated.[6]

The Jews of Turkey reacted very favorably to the creation of the State of Israel. Between 1948 and 1951, 34,547 Jews immigrated to Israel, nearly 40% of the Jewish population at the time.[6] Immigration was stunted for several months in November 1948, when Turkey suspended migration permits as a result of pressure from neighboring Arab countries.[7]

In March 1949, the suspension was removed when Turkey officially recognized Israel, and emigration continued, with 26,000 emigrating within the same year. The migration was entirely voluntary, and was primary driven by economic factors given the majority of emigrants were from the lower classes.[8] In fact, the migration of Jews to Israel is the second largest mass emigration wave out of Turkey, the first being the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey.[9]when most of them arrived to Israel As with many other Jews from the Middle east and North Africa they were put into Transit camps or Ma'abarot.

After 1951, emigration of Jews from Turkey to Israel slowed materially.[10]

In the mid 1950s, 10% of those who had moved to Israel returned to Turkey. A new synagogue, the Neve Şalom was constructed in Istanbul in 1951. Generally, Turkish Jews in Israel have integrated well into society and are not distinguishable from other Israelis.[11] However, they maintain their Turkish culture and connection to Turkey, and are strong supporters of close relations between Israel and Turkey.[12]

In recent years during the rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and deteriorating relations between Turkey and Israel, rising anti-Semitism, perceived threats to the personal security of Jews in Turkey and rising anti-Jewish discrimination from Turkish society caused a new wave of emigration from Turkey to Israel.[13][14][15]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b Toktaş, Şule (2006). "Turkey's Jews and Their Immigration to Israel". Middle Eastern Studies. 42 (3): 505–519. ISSN 0026-3206.
  2. ^ Israel Central Bureau of Statistics - Estimated numbers of Turkish born Jews in Israel Archived 2012-08-14 at the Wayback Machine (in Hebrew)
  3. ^ İlker Aytürk. "Aliya to Mandatory Palestine and Israel." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online, 2012. Reference. NEW YORK UNIVERSITY (NYU). 5 December 2012 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-jews-in-the-islamic-world/aliya-to-mandatory-palestine-and-israel-COM_0001450>
  4. ^ Toktaş 2006, p. 507a:"From 1923 to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, it is estimated that 7,308 Jews emigrated from Turkey to Palestine.
  5. ^ Toktaş 2006, p. 507.
  6. ^ a b Toktaş 2006, p. 508.
  7. ^ Toktaş 2006, p. 508: "Turkey, having not recognized Israel immediately after its proclamation of statehood, suspended permits to emigrate there in November 1948, in response to objections from Arab countries. However, this restriction did not stop the emigration of Jews by illegal means."
  8. ^ Toktaş 2006, pp. 505–9:"However, the emigration of the Jews was not part of a government-mandated population exchange. On the contrary, the Jews immigrated to Israel of their own free will...In the great wave of 1948–51, a large majority of the emigrants came from the lower classes... These lower classes were less influenced by the Alliance Israelite Universelle schools and the republic’s modernizing trends... Even so, economic factors were the dominant theme among lower-class emigrants in their motivation to move."
  9. ^ Toktaş 2006, p. 505:"The migration of Jews from Turkey to Israel is the second largest mass emigration movement out of Turkey, the first being labour migration to Europe. The largest mass emigration of minorities from Turkey was that of the Greeks during the Turkish–Greek population exchanges of the early 1920s."
  10. ^ Toktaş 2006, p. 511:"After the emigration of 34,547 Turkish Jews to Israel in 1948–51, in the period up to 2001 another 27,473 made their way to the Jewish state... A total of 6,871 emigrants arrived in Israel in 1952–60, 4,793 in 1961–64, 9,280 in 1965–71, 3,118 in 1972–79, 2,088 in 1980–89, 1,215 in 1990–2000, and 108 in 2001. The migration figures then decrease greatly. Only 68 immigrants arrived in Israel in 2002, 53 in 2003 and just 52 in 2004."
  11. ^ Toktas, Sule. "Cultural Identity, Minority Position and Immigration: Turkey's Jewish Minority vs. Turkish-Jewish Immigrants in Israel." Middle Eastern Studies 44.3 (2008): 511-25. Print.
  12. ^ Toktaş 2006, p. 513.
  13. ^ Danny Adino Ababa (August 30, 2010). "Immigrating out of fear". YNet.
  14. ^ Lela Gilbert (December 5, 2017). "Turkey's Erdogan Fans the Flames of Anti-Semitism". Hudson Institute.
  15. ^ Sibel Ekin (March 3, 2018). "More Turkish Jews seek new life in Israel". Ahval.
  16. ^ "Yasmin Levy Makes Music out of Madness". eSefarad (in Spanish). Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  17. ^ Levi, Tilda (14 October 2009). "Bir deryaydı Erol Güney". Şalom (in Turkish). Retrieved 26 June 2015.