Sephardi Istanbul

In the past I’ve made frequent references to the Sephardi jews that in the 15th century fled the Spanish inquisition and Portuguese King’s policies and settled in Amsterdam. I like to refer to that group in history as a clever ancestral anicdote as to why I like living in the Netherlands.

But then I find myself in Istanbul surrounded by some of the finest guides and friends a boy can ever wish for, and when I bring up the sarphatic jews and my long lost possibly jewish roots back many generations, Mr. B turns to me and says — you know where else they settled? – Istanbul.? The Ottoman empire, for various reasons, decided to give them a place to settle, right here in this city. (actually one of two places in Turkey)

Wanting to learn more, I looked it up. Indeed one of the most prominent groups of expelled Sephardi Jews settled, in 1492, in Istanbul and a place called Salonica.? Their language is known as Judeo-Spanish, or Ladino, and at this point, is just about extinct.

Hearing this today I was captivated, for all the times I’ve referred to the Sephartic Jews of Amsterdam as possibly my long lost ancestors, the whole time I could be just as connected to this place and a language that is almost gone.

Interestingly I also learned that the name for orange is Portocal (havent checked spelling) which apparently comes from the boxes that would arrive from Portugal, with the name of the country printed on the outside.

Always learning in Istanbul.