Data of over 61,000 Turkish Jewish gravestones online in new database

Researchers under the leadership of Prof. Minna Rozen, then of Tel Aviv University, worked from 1988 to 1990 travelling across Turkey taking over 100,000 photos as well as mapping the cemeteries.

The tombstone of Sol, wife of Avraham Safami, died March 11, 1775,  Hasköy Cemetery, Turkey (photo credit: PROF. MINNA ROZEN)
The tombstone of Sol, wife of Avraham Safami, died March 11, 1775, Hasköy Cemetery, Turkey
(photo credit: PROF. MINNA ROZEN)
An ambitious project has been launched online that documents Jewish gravestones in Turkey.
The project, entitled “A World Beyond: Jewish Cemeteries in Turkey 1583-1990” contains the details of over 61,022 Jewish tombstones spread across the country. It is one of the largest tombstone databases in the world – covering over 400 years of Turkish-Jewish life.
The project is part of The Turkish and Balkan Jewry Documentation Project of the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center of Tel Aviv University. The researchers hope to include cemeteries across Greece, Albania and Bulgaria.
Under the leadership of Prof. Minna Rozen, researchers worked on the database from 1988 to 1990. They traveled across Turkey, documenting the sites by taking over 100,000 photos. They also mapped and cleaned up the cemeteries they encountered.
After spending years digitizing the records, funding for the project has only now become available for the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center to upload the database online and make it accessible to the public.
The project is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Bernard Lewis, a British-American historian who specialized in the history of Islam and the Middle East. Before he died, Lewis contributed to the beginnings of the project until it ran into financial difficulties.
The research covers 28 different Turkish cemeteries, including a Karaite cemetery in Istanbul, the Italian cemetery of Istanbul, as well as several smaller cemeteries from communities in western and eastern Anatolia. Jewish communities abandoned many of these cemeteries after the conflicts of the 20th century as well as Jewish emigration in the region.
The project’s search function allows users to peruse easily through the enormous database with specific criteria to find a specific gravestone. Information on each cemetery is listed.
Tombstone of Rivqah wife of Nisim Mutal, died December 28, 1760, Hasköy Cemetery, Turkey (Photo Credit: Prof. Minna Rozen)Tombstone of Rivqah wife of Nisim Mutal, died December 28, 1760, Hasköy Cemetery, Turkey (Photo Credit: Prof. Minna Rozen)