A vast digitised database of Turkish Jewish cemeteries has just been launched online and made available to the public by the Goldstein Goren Diaspora Research Center at Tel Aviv University.
Entitled ‘A World Beyond: Jewish Cemeteries in Turkey 1583-1990’ and dedicated to the memory of the oriental studies scholar Bernard Lewis, who died in 2018, the database is the culmination of decades of research by Prof. Minna Rozen and comprises digital images and detailed textual content of more than 61,000 Jewish gravestones from a variety of communities in Turkey from 1583 until 1990. Rozen’s onsite documentation of the cemeteries was carried out in 1988-1990. The material was digitized in the 1990s but until now had not been publicly accessible.
The computerised database, containing 61,022 Jewish tombstones from across Turkey, is the largest tombstone database in the world. The fruit of the labor of numerous individuals and bodies, its primary goals are to preserve the remnants of the gradually-disappearing Jewish life in Turkey, aid scholars to paint a broader and richer picture of the past, and enable interested laypersons to search for their roots.
The website offers a sophisticated research platform that enables a very broad range of search options, including the epigraphical content of the gravestones, the materials used, and their ornamental elements. This website is unique in the academic world both for its sheer size and for the research opportunities it opens up to its users.
The database provides access to detailed information on Jewish cemeteries in a score of towns and cities around Turkey.