Decline of Jewish Life in Turkey: Growing Emigration of Jews: Last Ten Years Estimated to Have Seen
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Decline of Jewish Life in Turkey: Growing Emigration of Jews: Last Ten Years Estimated to Have Seen

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The decline of Jewish life in Turkey is graphically described by a prominent Jewish personage who has just arrived here from Turkey, in the course of an interview with the J.T.A.

The discrimination and intolerance to which the Jews are subjected for years past at the hands of the authorities, he says, is resulting in a constantly growing emigration of the Jews from Turkey. It is reliably estimated that in the last ten years the number of Jews in Turkey has fallen from 140,000 to 80,000. The economic position of the Turkish Jews is most difficult and there are practically no funds left to maintain the Jewish communal activities. The Jewish institutions and schools are literally on the verge of collapse.

The restrictions which are to be applied at the beginning of the new school year in regard to the number of classes in the Jewish schools and the appointment of the teachers, will to all intents and purposes mean the end of the whole of the important educational work which has been conducted for years by the Jewish Communities in Turkey, the informant claimed. According to the latest figures, he said, the 23 Jewish schools in Constantinople were attended in the present school year by 7,300 children. The so-called Goldschmidt School which has 9 classes and is conducted on German lines, and the two large boys’ and girls’ schools of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, also with 9 classes each, will in the new school year have only 5 classes each. In the four suburbs of Ortokoy, Haidar-Pasha, k and Haskoy, where the Jewish schools had 5 classes each they will now have only three. The Yabne School, which was founded with the aid of the B’nai’ B’rith Lodges and the Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden, and until 16 years ago was supported by them is now for the first time since its existence faced with unsurmountable difficulties. It is the only private school in the city which had enjoyed all the rights of a State school. About 40 of its pupils are now attending Stamboul University. The economic depression of Turkish Jewry and the Tukisation policy of the Government are now hitting all the Jewish schools, even those which were hitherto immune.

Conditions in the provinces are as bad as in Constantinople. The Alliance School in Adrianople, which previously had 1,200 pupils, has now only 320. Because it had put up some resistance to the Turkish measures, it was even closed down for a whole year. Even the Jewish schools in Smyrna, which were till now safe from the Turkisation measures on account of the good relations existing between the Jews and the local authorities, and which had been able so far to retain French as the language of instruction, are now also being subjected to the same kind of pressure. Recently they were ordered to cease teaching the Biblical Books of the Prophets. The same order was given to the large Talmud Torah School in Smyrna.

The Government also refuses to allow the Jewish schools to select their own teachers, and compels them to take half-trained Moslems selected by the Government, at double the normal salaries, and the Jewish schools have not been given a single teacher who has been properly trained in a teachers’ seminary. The Government also refuses to permit instruction in foreign languages, allowing only two hours a week to be devoted to Jewish subjects.

The Jewish pupils are constantly leaving the Jewish schools and entering the public schools. In many Turkish towns where previously there were hardly any Jewish pupils in the non-Jewish schools, there are now as many Jewish children in the non-Jewish schools as in the Jewish schools. On account of the incessant Nationalist propaganda, however, and the agitation against the minorities, the Jewish pupils in these schools find themselves, however, constantly attacked by the Turkish students and anti-Jewish clashes are now frequent.

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