Guler Orgun -- A Turkish-Jewish-Muslim-Tale

Soubor Download Video (Velikost: 314.09 MB) Direct Link
Soubor Download Video (Velikost: 84.44 MB) Direct Link
Soubor Download Video (Velikost: 270.17 MB) Direct Link
Soubor Download Video (Velikost: 86.94 MB) Direct Link
Soubor Download Video (Velikost: 66.99 MB) Direct Link

In the traditional Ladino language of her Sephardic Jewish ancestors, Güler Orgun tells us how her family found a new home in the Ottoman Empire after being expelled from Spain in the late 15th century.

We learn why her parents converted to Islam, and how Güler herself later came to find her Jewish roots again - before she married a Muslim man

Verze pro tiskVerze pro tisk

Guler traces her story back 500 years – to Spain in 1492 when Christopher Columbus was sailing west from Port of Palos. Columbus departed from this relatively unknown seaport as the larger ports were clogged with Jews departing from Spain.


King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile had just introduced the Expulsion Decree – also called the Alhambra Decree – that declared that no Jews would be allowed to remain within the Spanish Kingdom. The Spainsh Inquisition drove out 20,000 Spanish Jews, among them Guler’s ancestors. The Spanish Jews became known as Sephardim. As Guler explains, “Sepharrad” means “Spain” in Hebrew.


Many of the expelled Jews left for the Ottoman Empire, which, as Guler informs, was relatively tolerant toward Jews. There they were welcomed by Sultan Bajazet II, who was known for his compassion toward the arriving refugees. Jews in the Ottoman Empire were not only welcomed to settle, but were encouraged and even assisted. The peaceful atmosphere allowed Jewish life and culture to flourish. Jews were prominent members of Ottoman society. 


Guler speaks Ladino – the language of Spanish Jews. It is also called Judeo Español. It is estimated that between 160,000 and 300,000 Sephardim today have some knowledge of Ladino


Guler worked as editor for the Turkey-based monthly Ladino magazine, El Amaneser, which reaches Ladino speakers worldwide. 

Verze pro tiskVerze pro tisk

Guler’s Jewish ancestors arrived in the Ottoman Empire (1300-1923). At its peak, the empire covered most parts of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe as well as parts of the Maghreb and of the Mashriq.


During the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, the Empire lost all of its European territory to Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Albania. 


In 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the fight in World War I between the Central Powers (most notably the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and the Allied Powers (France, Great Britain, the US and others). Guler’s grandfather served in the Ottoman Army. 


By the end of the war in 1918, the Central Powers - and with it the Ottoman Empire - were defeated by the Allied Powers. This defeat spelled the end for the Empire.

Verze pro tiskVerze pro tisk

During the First World War, the Allied powers had made a series of agreements that outlined the dismantling and partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. The remaining sections of the Empire, which included Istanbul and part of northern Anatolia were overseen by Allied administration. At this time, a Turkish national movement under the leadership of Atatürk began to grow.


In 1920, Guler’s father came to what is now Turkey from the Romanian city of Constanta, a port on the Black Sea. The year before his arrival a nationalist congress, presided over by Atatürk, met to discuss protocol for the establishment of an independent Turkish state. Here is a timeline of key historical dates in Turkey.


As Guler informs, Atatürk founded modern Turkey in 1923. This was preceded by the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923) and the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne


Guler’s mother’s family lived for generations in the Turkish city of Çanakkale. This seaport is famous for, among other things, being the mythical location of the war of Troy. 

Verze pro tiskVerze pro tisk

Guler Orgun was born in Istanbul in 1937. Two years later, the German invasion of Poland triggered World War II, which led to the destruction of the vast majority of European Jewry, planned during the infamous Wannsee conference in January 1942. 


Turkey's neutrality during World War II saved Guler’s family from the tragic fate met by the majority of Europe’s Jews. Though Turkey did not declare war on Germany until February 1945, their troops were mobilized for the majority of the war in Europe. Guler’s father was conscripted into the army. 


Guler learned later about the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe – many Jews had sought refuge in Turkey. In fact, Turkish authorities also worked to actively save Jews. 

Guler also mentions that during the war non-Muslim families were financially ruined because of the Wealth Tax - also known as Varlik Vergisi


Verze pro tiskVerze pro tisk

Guler’s parents converted to Islam as her father wanted to become a Turkish citizen. He then changed his name to Avni Tunçer 


To do so they visited a Mufti. A Mufti is an interpreter of Islamic law.


Guler was born Muslim, but converted to Judaism in order to marry her first husband, Ceki Karasu. They were married in Istanbul’s Neve Shalom Synagogue

Verze pro tiskVerze pro tisk

Gulur lives in the Turkish capital city of Istanbul. She speaks of it as a place where Europe and Asia meet. In the 1970s the Bosphorus Bridge was constructed, connecting the two continents. 


Istanbul used to be known as Constantinople. In the 1920s Atatürk officially changed the name to Istanbul. 

Film Details

  • Trvání:

Study Guide

Find more information in our comprehensive Study Guide.

click here

Film Script

for teachers and students who would like to read the script.

Study Guide


glqxz9283 sfy39587stf02 mnesdcuix8
glqxz9283 sfy39587stf03 mnesdcuix8