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
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.
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.
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.