The Turkish soap opera that has transfixed Israelis

10,000 tickets to see the stars of 'Bride of Istanbul' in Tel Aviv sell out within hours.

Picture of Ozcan Deniz and Alsi Enver (photo credit: Courtesy)
Picture of Ozcan Deniz and Alsi Enver
(photo credit: Courtesy)
One of the most buzzed-about TV shows in Israel right now isn’t a reality show or a comedy. And it isn’t even Israeli at all, it’s a Turkish soap opera.
Now in its third season, Istanbullu Gelin (The Bride of Istanbul) has won over the hearts of thousands of Israelis with its dramatic twists and turns. And now, recognizing the love they’ve received from many Israelis, the show’s stars are flocking to Israel.
The soap opera, which is available in Israel with Hebrew subtitles on the Viva Channel (on HOT, Yes, Cellcom and Partner), has quickly become something of an obsession among many Israelis.
The Facebook group for Israeli fans of the show was created last year, and was closing in on 77,000 members on Tuesday. More than a dozen other Hebrew fan pages and groups for the show exist.
What have Israelis found so compelling in this series? Istanbullu Gelin (sometimes known as Evermore in English) focuses on the aristocratic Boran family, led by Faruk (Ozcan Deniz) and Surreya (Asli Enver). The couple have settled down in the Boran family’s ancestral home, and Surreya, who grew up poor, struggles to fit into the wealthy, powerful Muslim family. TV critics have theorized that Israelis are drawn to the clashes between tradition and modernity, between a new bride and a resistant family, and between differing cultural values.
This week, the show’s Berkay Hardal (Murat Boran) will be heading to Israel to star in a new ad campaign for Castro, and to hold a meet-and-greet with his adoring fans.
According to the fashion company, Hardal will shoot a series of advertisements alongside the brand’s main presenter, Rotem Sela. Hardal will take part in a press conference on Wednesday, and then will be available to meet fans on Friday at the TLV Fashion Mall.
On Monday, Castro uploaded a message from Hardal to its Instagram story: “Hi Israel, on February 15, I’m coming to Castro in the TLV Mall, looking forward to seeing you, I love you!” And according to Israel Hayom, Hardal will also stop by the HaAh HaGadol (Big Brother) house in Tel Aviv to visit this season’s VIP guests.
Hardal is far from the only Bride of Istanbul star heading to Israel this year. 
In April, avid fans will get the chance to see the soap’s two lead stars in real life. On April 6, Deniz and Enver will appear at the Menora Mivtahim Arena in Tel Aviv. Deniz, a popular singer in Turkey, will be accompanied by 20 Turkish musicians. Tickets for the show went on sale Monday morning and sold out within hours, after more than 10,000 Israelis rushed to buy them.
The organizers are considering adding more dates for the show, but have not yet announced anything.
Israelis aren’t the only international audiences that appreciate the show. Last year, the soap opera was nominated for an International Emmy Award for Best Telenovela, but lost out to a Portuguese show,
And last month The Bride of Istanbul got the real stamp of Israeli approval, when it received its very own parody on the popular Keshet 12 sketch show Eretz Nehederet, titled The Transplant from Istanbul