Sarah M. Zaides

Feb 24, 2023

Tevye's Ottoman Daughter

Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews at the End of Empire

Libra Kitap 2022

In existing scholarship on Jewish subjects of the Russian Empire, there were three typical fates available to Russia's Jews on the eve of the Bolshevik Revolution: they could remain in the shtetl, leave for a new life in America, or participate in the Russian Revolution. 

Tevye's Ottoman Daughter: Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews at the End of Empire (Libra Kitap, 2022) traces a fourth path, following the saga of Ashkenazi Jews who instead crossed the Black Sea to join their Sephardic coreligionists in the Ottoman capital of Constantinople and later Istanbul, or who joined agricultural farming communities in the Western Aegean sponsored by the Baron Maurice de Hirsch's Jewish Colonization Association. There, they considered, and reconsidered, the possibilities open to them, including eventual migration to Palestine, Western Europe, North America, and Argentina, Others stayed and forged a new life as an Ashkenazi minority in Istanbul, creating new organizations, places of worship, and political practices. These Russian Jewish migrants give us insight into the ethnic, religious, and political challenges as well as aspirations during the twilight years of the Ottoman Empire on the brink of Turkish statehood.

Sarah M. Zaides received her PhD from the Department of History at the University of Washington, where she currently serves as the Associate Director of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies.

Makena Mezistrano is a PhD student in the Department of History at Stanford University where she studies Ladino-speaking Sephardic Jews in the modern Ottoman and post-Ottoman context.

Listen to more episodes on:

Your Host

Makena Mezistrano

Learn More

Also Hosted By Makena Mezistrano