Transmitting the Heritage

Sephardim women of Turkey

Rachel Bornick in the women’s balcony of the largest synagogue in Izmir, Turkey.

“Tbmando El Dulce” translated literally means “taking the sweet”. This custom IS practiced just before a wedding, as part of “La Visita” or The Visit, which only the women friends and relatives make to the home of the mother or mother-in-law to be, at their invitation. Either the bride, or one of the mothers, passes a special silver tray with a bowl of candied fruit. The guest takes

“Echair aciete al Cal” or “Mirando el aciete” (“looking into the oil”) is a ceremony performed when something good has occurred. The woman of the house goes to the synagogue with a bowl of oil, which has been blessed by the Rabbi. She looks at her reflection in the oil and says a prayer thanking God for her good fortune. She puts three wicks into the oil, lights them and then hangs the bowl as an offering.

A’bride to be stands in the room which her mother has filled with her wedding trousseau. The Sephardic ritual called “Anshugar” celebrates this occasion. From the day a baby girl is born the mother begins to collect, or make items for her daughter’s household. Before the wedding, a party is given by the mother of the bride-to-be at which all the women friends and relatives of her and her daughter are invited to admire these special gifts.

Sepfiardi Women of Turkey: a photo essay by Audrey Daniel

T’en years ago this woman was married in this synagogue in Edime. More than a century old, it was built by the same architect who designed the great synagogue of Vienna. Now it stands in ruins. There are only five families left in what was, for hundreds of years one of the largest synagogues in Turkey. Due to emigration to Israel, Europe and the US the Jewish community has dwindled.

A’sshe drank her afternoon cup of Turkish Coffee this woman sang songs from her childhood, and told us a thousand and one stories about the great changes she witnessed in the Jewish community in Istanbul over the course other life.