(Laurence Abensur-Hazan is a founder and current President of Etsi ("my tree" in Hebrew), the Sephardi Historical and Genealogical Society based in Paris. A graduate notary and lawyer, she is currently a professional genealogist in Paris. She works on the French naturalisation of Jews from the Ottoman Empire and on the Alliance Israelite Universelle Archives. Three years ago she published "Les Pontremoli, deux dynasties rabbiniques en Turquie et en Italie".)

Infofile on Genealogical and Historical Research

on Jewish Families

from Izmir (formerly Smyrna), Turkey

By Laurence Abensur-Hazan (Mrs)

According to historical sources, there was a Jewish population living in Smyrna before CE, as well as in many other places of the Aegean region. For instance, the famous city of Sardes keeps the trace of an antique synagogue. Unfortunatly, the city of Izmir does not keep such antique proofs of a Jewish presence. The traces that can be found are much more recent.



The Synagogues

The oldest traces are the beautiful synagogues which can be visited, or at least seen, in the bazar quarter.

Following is the list of the still existing synagogues :

The two most recent synagogues used today for the important ceremonies are this last one and the new synagogue located in Alsancak where the main part of the Jewish Community of the city now lives. The others are regularly used for daily prayers by some men.

There were many other synagogues or oratories founded by various families, but they all disappeared. Abraham Galante has given the list of the main family oratories in his book.

The still existing synagogues are in good state. The interiors are beautiful and there are often some marble slabs with the names of the donors. The Beth Israel synagogue, for instance, contains some slabs with the names of Yuda Leon Hodara ben Esterula, Ishak (Ferdi) Yafe ben Mazaltov. Some other slabs also bear a date : Binyamin Navaro ben Sara (30 Adar 5741 = 6 March, 1981), Yusef Pesah cen Ben Tamar (11 Sevat 5741 = 16 January, 1981)


The Cemeteries

The oldest Jewish Cemetery was the one of Barhi Baba which was probably founded in the 17th Century but it was unfortunatly destroyed during the 20th Century to build a park.

The Barhi Baba Cemetery was used until the second half of the 19th Century. According to Abraham Galante, the burials were stopped in this cemetery in 1885.

The remains have been transferred the 28 June, 1921, probably in the Gurt Cesme cemetery.

The three current cemeteries that one can visit are :


The Archives


Jewish Community Records

P in Izmir

Some records are still kept in the Izmir Rabbinate, now located in the modern quarter of Alsancak.

The records generally are not very old and there are no documents dating before the 1900's.

The Rabbinate keeps Marriage Registers (entitled "Cazamientos") from 1909 until today, written in Judeo-Spanish, Latin characters. Some of them, initially written in Solitreo (or Chatzi kulmus : Judeo-Spanish written with old Sephardic Characters of Rachi type), have been transcribed in Latin Characters.

There are also Birth Registers (entitled "Livros de nacimientos") for the same period.

The most interesting record which permits to find data about persons sometimes born at the beginning of the 19th Century, is a kind of Census, probably established around 1906. It is written in Solitreo and contains for each family mentioned in alphabetical order, the first name and surname of each person, his birth date and place, his occupation, his father and mother's first names with the mention of his or her eventual decease by the mention z"l in Hebrew letters, his family link with the family chief. This Census is composed of around ten books and only one volume has been transcribed in Latin Characters (those with the surnames beginning by F, P and S). A copy of this census is kept in Jerusalem by The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People.

Sometimes, one can also find some copies of certificates (in a register entitled "Actos") established for people originating from Izmir, but living abroad and who needed such documents for administrative reasons.

Officially, there are not Death or Burial records about the period before 1930-1940, when the new cemetery began to be used. An index of the stones of the Jewish Cemeteries of Izmir has been made by Minna Rozen's team from the Tel Aviv University, but it is not yet available for public consultation.

P in Jerusalem

An important collection of records from Izmir are kept at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, located in the Sprinzak Building in Givat Ram University http://sites.huji.ac.il/archives There are two collections of records coming from two Izmirli families : the Levy and the Eshkenazi. The first one contains essentially documents about the Levy family. They are written in Ottoman Characters and do not seem very useful for the persons who are not members of the Levy family.

The second collection, from the Eshkenazi family, is very useful for all the families from Izmir. It contains Ketubot Registers between 1819 and 1933. Dov Cohen dkcohen@neto.net.il, who is a specialist of these records and who can do research for interested persons, has established an alphabetical index of the grooms and brides mentioned in a part of these precious records (see the Bibliography).

There are also some registers mentioning the gifts done by the members of the community to the various synagogues of the city, especially the Bikur Holim synagogue.

Records from the Beth Din of Izmir are also kept, as well as various letters about many subjects (for instance, orders of books from Leghorn by members of the Izmir Community).

A copy of the Census in Solitreo kept by the Rabbinate in Izmir can also be found there.

We have also to mention the collection of ketubot from Izmir kept at the Jewish National and University Library (JNUL) as well as the newspapers, also located in Jerusalem. Regarding the ketubot, it is possible to see the photographies of the documents, but there is no alphabetical index. A general catalogue of all the ketubot kept at the JNUL is now available on Internet at http://jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/ketubbot.

The newspapers which were published by the Jewish Community of Izmir and that one can find, for instance, at the JNUL today are the following :

A very precious place in Jerusalem is the Ben Zvi Institute which keeps too valuable collections of newspapers which can complete those of the JNUL, as well as a collection of ketubot. Its library also contains several books about the Izmir community.

Other Jewish Records

A very valuable source to study this community is the Alliance Israélite Universelle Archives (AIU) http://www.aiu.org kept in Paris. The institution of the Alliance was created in 1860 and founded several schools in the Mediterranean countries. The Alliance boys school of Izmir was created in 1873, and the girls school was founded in 1878. Many Jewish children attended these schools, meaning that, in general, most children born from 1860 attended the school at least for some months.

Some lists of pupils can be found in these records, as well as many letters written by the directors of the schools, the teachers or other persons (pupils, parents…). Two articles about this matter have been published in the quarterly review Etsi http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/1321.

Consulate Archives

The Jews who had a foreign citizenship (so, who were not Ottoman) were generally registered in the consulate of which they had the nationality. In Izmir, many families were Italian and they were registered at the Italian Consulate which still keeps four registers entitled "Registri dei nazionali". The oldest register kept there was opened in 1871. So, the registrations that can be found are not prior to this year. But, the persons mentioned in the inscriptions can be born at the begining of the 19th Century.

Other persons were French citizens and were registered on the lists of the French Consulate. The archives of this consulate are not kept in Izmir today. Some old lists of French citizens, especially some Jews, are kept by the French National Archives in Paris and by the Centre des Archives Diplomatiques located in Nantes.

There were also some families like the Palacci or the Leon who were protected by the Nederlands. The consulate of this country could probably help the researcher to locate the archives of the 19th and the 20th centuries.

Generally, the Consulate Archives are very useful especially to find the maiden names of the women which are generally not mentioned in the Community Archives.

Various Sources elsewhere

P in Paris (France)

One of the most interesting source is the Naturalization Files kept by the French National Archives. This kind of record can be found for the persons, generally who lived in France (in some cases, the naturalization can be obtained by persons who worked for the French interest, but in an other country) and who requested the French citizenship. The files currently available for a free consultation are those dating more than 60 years.

For the more recent files, it is necessary to request an authorization.

The files generally contain detailed information about the naturalized person, but also about his close family (parents, wife, children, brothers and sisters). They often contain the translations of birth or other certificates whose originals were written by the Rabbis or the local authorities. One can find several translations of birth certificates established by the Turkish Rabbinates, or Ottoman certificates containing sometimes a physical description. A more detailed article about the Naturalization of the Ottoman Jews has been published in Etsi, the bilingual Sephardi Historical and Genealogical Review http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/1321.

Many of the unfortunate Jews from Izmir who lived in France during WWII were deported by the nazis. Information about them can be found in the Shoah Archives recently available for public consultation at the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine or at the French National Archives. Theses archives especially those coming from the Drancy Camps have been microfilmed. Each individual file contains the Civil Status information about the person concerned.

Another useful source is the Nominative Census which mention, for each family, all the members or the persons living with the family chief. They are available for Paris, for instance, for 1926, 1931, 1936 and 1946 (there was no census in 1941 because of WWII). They are kept at the Paris City Archives.

The Civil Records (birth, marriage and death certificates) are, of course, a precious and basic source of data but they cannot be consulted freely, excepted for the death certificates (any date) and the birth and marriage certificates dating more than 100 years.

The Cemeteries are also a source to locate the members of one family who were often buried in the same one. The two Parisian cemeteries where an important part of the Jewish French population is buried are located in Bagneux and Pantin.

P Elsewhere

The same kind of sources presented in the previous part can certainly be found in other countries where emigrated the Jews from Izmir (Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Israel, United States…). Other infofiles could certainly give details about these countries.

The main libraries of the Occidental Countries can keep collections of old newspapers or old books, generally written by Rabbis.

The Judaica auctions are also today a possible source of genealogical or historical information, because it is possible to find ketubot, books or other kind of records recently discovered and offered to sell.

The families coming from Turkey, especially those who did not leave the country, can also own some valuables records concerning their families as well as others (newspapers, letters, ketubot, old photographies…).

Ottoman Records

Many people wonder if it is possible to obtain some data from the old Ottoman Records. We heard about this matter that it was necessary to proof that one can read this script before to be authorized to consult the archives, which are mainly kept in Ankara.

For the most recent Birth Certificates, for instance, it seems possible to obtain from the Civil Records in Izmir, a translation in current Turkish if one can give a precise name and date.



We present an extensive bibliography not only devoted to the genealogical research about Jews from Izmir, but also about the culture and the history of this community.


- Abensur-Hazan Laurence and Roos Eliane, "Généalogie rabbinique Hazan", Chronique de Paléographie hébraïque, in Revue du Cercle de Généalogie Juive, Tome 9, n°35, automn 1993, pp.18-20 [in French]

- Abensur Philip and Abensur-Hazan Laurence, "Les listes nominatives dans les archives de l'Alliance Israélite Universelle", in Etsi, Revue de Généalogie et Histoire Séfarades, volume 3, n°10, October 2000, pp.3-7 [in French, with English Summary]

- Abensur Philip and Hazan Laurence, "Les archives du Rabbinat d'Izmir", in Revue du Cercle de Généalogie Juive, Tome 11, n°42, Summer 1995, pp.8-9 [in French]

- Abensur-Hazan Laurence, "La Boz del Pueblo : une source pour la généalogie des Juifs d'Izmir", in Revue du Cercle de Généalogie Juive, Tome 13, n°49, pp.13-15 [in French]

- Abensur-Hazan Laurence, "Sources en Israël pour la généalogie des Juifs d'Izmir", in Revue du Cercle de Généalogie Juive, Tome 13, n°50, été 1997, pp.10-11 [in French]

- Abensur-Hazan Laurence and Missistrano Claude, "Sources pour la généalogie des Juifs de Turquie", compte-rendu d'atelier, in Actes du 5ème Congrès International de Généalogie Juive, Paris, 1998, pp.305-314. [in French, with English Summary]

- Abensur Philip, Abensur-Hazan Laurence, Cohen Dov, Missistrano Claude and Pimienta Sydney, "Paléographie séfarade", compte-rendu d'atelier, in Actes du 5ème Congrès International de Généalogie Juive, Paris, 1998, pp.449-451. [in French, with English Summary]

- Abensur-Hazan Laurence, "How To Research Families From Turkey and Salonika", in Avotaynu, Volume 14, n°1, pp.28-30 [in English]

- Abensur-Hazan Laurence, "La reconstitution de cinq générations à travers les archives du Consulat d'Italie à Izmir", in Etsi, Revue de Généalogie et Histoire Séfarades, volume 1, n°1, Spring-Summer 1998, pp.10-13 [in French, with English Summary]

- Abensur Philip and Abensur-Hazan Laurence, "Les données généalogiques dans les archives de l'Alliance Israélite Universelle : mythe et réalités", in Etsi, Revue de Généalogie et Histoire Séfarades, volume 3, n°8, April 2000, pp.3-7 [in French, with English Summary]

- Abensur-Hazan Laurence, "A propos de la nationalité italienne des Juifs d'Izmir", in Etsi, Revue de Généalogie et Histoire Séfarades, volume 3, n°9, September 2000, p.14 [in French, with English Summary]

- Abensur-Hazan Laurence, "Bibliographie sur la généalogie juive dans l'Empire Ottoman", in Revue du Cercle de Généalogie Juive, Tome 11, n°43, Autumn 1995, pp.10-13 [in French]

- Abensur-Hazan Laurence, "Les Pontremoli, deux dynasties rabbiniques en Turquie et en Italie", Paris, 1997 [in French]

- Cohen Dov, "List of 7300 names of Jewish brides and grooms who married in Izmir between the years 1883-1901 & 1918-1933", List n°1, Summer 1997-5757 [in English]

- Hazan Laurence, "Les archives du consulat d'Italie à Izmir", in Revue du Cercle de Généalogie Juive, Tome 11, n°42, Summer 1995, pp.10-11 [in French]

- Taranto Leon B., "Ottoman Empire Sephardim : Historical Migrations and Genealogical Resources", in Sharsheret Hadorot, journal of Jewish Genealogy (edited by The Israel Genealogical Society), Volume 14, n°1, Autumn 1999 [in Hebrew and English]

- Taranto Leon B., "Ottoman Empire Sephardim : Historical Migrations and Genealogical Resources - Consolidated List of References and Recommended Publications (Dec.1999)", in Sharsheret Hadorot, journal of Jewish Genealogy (edited by The Israel Genealogical Society, Volume 14, n°2), Winter 2000 [in English]


History and Culture

- Abensur-Hazan Laurence, "Le Pourim Sarahoussa : Pourim de Saragosse ou Pourim de Syracuse ?", in Etsi, Revue de Généalogie et d'Histoire Séfarades, Volume 2, n°5, Summer 1999, pp.8-13 [in French, with English Summary]

- Abensur-Hazan Laurence, "La fièvre dengue à Smyrne en 1889", in Etsi, Revue de Généalogie et Histoire Séfarades, volume 2, n°7, Winter 1999, pp.3-7 [in French, with English Summary]

- Aksoy Yasar, "Asansör ve Dario Moreno Anilari", Izmir Buyuksehir belediyesi Kültür Yayinlari, Izmir, 1993 [in Turkish]

- Atay Çinar, "Izmir'in Izmir'i", Esiad, Izmir,1993 [in Turkish]

- Ayoun Richard, "La Prensa Djudeo-Espanyola en Izmir antes de 1914", in Aki Yerushalayim, Revista Kulturala Djudeo-Espanyola, Anyo 18, 1997, n°56 [in Judeo-Spanish]

- Benbassa Esther and Rodrigue Aron, "Une vie judéo-espagnole à l'Est : Gabriel Arié", Cerf, Paris, 1992 [in French]

- Benveniste Annie, "Le Bosphore à la Roquette - la communauté judéo-espagnole (1914-1940", Ed. L'Harmattan, Paris, 1989 [in French]

- Cohen-Rak Nicole, "Izmir et ses Judéo-espagnols", in Yod, Revue des études modernes et contemporaines hébraïques et juives, n°35, 1992, published by Langues'O, pp.63-76 [in French]

- Deunailles Maurice, "La mare aux tortues - La Balsa de las tortugas", Ed. Claude Alzieu, Grenoble, 1995 [in French]

- Fintz Menasce Esther, "Alberto Hemsi and His Coplas Sefardíes", in Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review, vol. 15, n°2, 1993 [in English]

- Galante Avram, "Histoire des Juifs d'Anatolie - Les Juifs d'Izmir", Istanbul, M. Babok, 1937-1939 [in French]

- Gerber Haim and barnai Jacob, "The Jews in Izmir in the 19th Century - Ottoman Documents from the Shar'i Court", Misgav Yerushalayim institute for research on the Sephardi and Oriental Jewish Heritage, Jérusalem, 1984 [in Hebrew]

- Goffman Daniel, "Izmir and the Levantine World, 1550-1650", University of Washington Press, 1990 [in English]

- Hazan Isacco, "Muestra Lingua", regular rubric devoted to the Judeo-Spanish spoken in Izmir, in the "Lettre Sépharade" published by Jean Carasso [two editions of the review, in French and in English]

- Housepian Dobkin Marjorie, "Smyrna 1922 - The Destruction of a City", Ed. Newmark Press, New York, 1998 [in English]

- Levi Avner, "El jurnalizmo djudio en Izmir", in "Aki Yerushalayim", Revista de la emision en djudeo-espanyol de Kol Israel-La Boz de Israel, anyo 4, n°16, Enero 1983 [in Judeo-Spanish]

- Milano Attilio, "Storia degli Ebrei italiani nel Levante", Ed. Casa Editrice Israel, Firenze 1949 [in Italian]

- Nahum Henri, "La guerre des langues à Smyrne au XIXe siècle et au début du XXe siècle", in Yod, Revue des études modernes et contemporaines hébraïques et juives, addenda to n°35, 1992, published by Langues'O [in French]

- Nahum Henri, "Un journal judéo-espagnol à Smyrne avant la Première Guerre Mondiale : La Boz del Puevlo", in Sephardica Hommage à Haïm Vidal Sephiha", Ed. Peter Lang, 1996 [in French]

- Nahum Henri, "Portrait d'une famille juive de Smyrne vers 1900", in "Vivre dans l'Empire Ottoman - Sociabilités et relations intercommunautaires (XVIIIe-Xxe siècles)", edited by François Georgeon and Paul Dumont, Ed. L'Harmattan, Paris, 1997 [in French]

- Nahum Henri, "Juifs de Smyrne - XIXe-XXe siècle", Ed. Aubier Histoires, Paris, 1997 [in French]

- Pontremoli Rafael Hiya, "Meam Loez - Livre d'Esther", Ed. Verdier, Coll. Les dix paroles, Lagrasse, 1997 [in French]

- Pulido Fernandez Angel, "Españoles sin patria y la raza sefardi", Ed. Universidad de Granada, reedition 1993 [in Spanish]

- Sabar Shalom, "Ketubbah - Jewish marriage contracts of the Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum and Klau Library", Philip and Muriel Ed - The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1990 [in English]

- Sabar Shalom, "Mazal Tov", Israel Museum Ed., Jerusalem, 1993 [in English]

- Sakayan Dora, "Smyrne 1922 - Entre le feu, le glaive et l'eau Les épreuves d'un médecin arménien", Ed. L'Harmattan, Paris, 2000 [in French]

- Sephiha Haïm Vidal, "L'agonie des judéo-espagnols", Ed. Entente, Paris, 1977 and 1979 [in French]

- Shaul Eli, "Los Donmes de Izmir", in Aki Yerushalayim, n°43, 1993 [in Judeo-Spanish]

- Scholem Gershom, "Sabbataï Tsevi - le messie mystique", Ed. Verdier, Coll. Les dix paroles, 1983 [in French]

- Simon Emmanuelle, "Sépharades de Turquie en Israël - Eléments d'histoire et de culture des Judéo-espagnols", Ed. L'Harmattan, Paris, 1999 [in French]

- Smyrnelis Marie-Carmen, "Colonies européennes et communautés ethnico-confessionnelles à Smyrne, coexistence et réseaux de sociabilité (fin du XVIIIe-au milieu du XIXe siècle)", in "Vivre dans l'Empire Ottoman - Sociabilités et relations intercommunautaires (XVIIIe-Xxe siècles)", edited by François Georgeon and Paul Dumont, Ed. L'Harmattan, Paris, 1997 [in French]


Collective Books

- "Jewish Journalism and printing houses in the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey", edited by Gad Nassi, Ed. The Isis Press, Istanbul, 2001 [in English]

- "Three ages of Izmir - Palimpsest Of Cultures", Ed. Yapi Kredi Yayinlari, 1993 [in English]

- "Son yüzyillarda Izmir ve Bati Anadolu", Ed. Akademi Kitabevi, Izmir, 1994 [in Turkish and some parts in English]


Exhibition Catalogs

- "Sephardi Jews in The Ottoman Empire - Aspects of a Material Culture", edited by Esther Juhasz, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1990 [in English]

- "The Sephardic Journey 1492-1992", Ed. Yeshiva University Museum, New York, 1992 [in English]

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