Lazarro Franko and partner

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In the photograph, the person in the center is Lazarro Franko, a cousin of the Lazarro Franko family who had emigrated from Italy to Istanbul. This family had opened a home-furnishings store  in Beyoglu [on the European side, where Rue de Pera is located, the place where the trendiest stores are located and where the most fashionable people shop] which was a company that continued from father to son. My father-in-law started working with the third generation of this family as an apprentice at a very young age. As the years passed, his boss grew to like him. He made him a partner in his store with %10 since my father-in-law's knowledge of the business and his customer relations were very good. There were three partners in the store (I don't remember the names). I only know that the person on the left in this photograph is one of the partners in the store, Mr. Levi.

On the right, I, Nesim Alkabes, was born on July 21st, 1920 in our brick home that was 30 m. further from Galata Kulesi [A neighborhood on the European side where Jews congregated in the beginning of the 20th century] with the help of a midwife. 

We married at the Zülfaris Synagogue on August 10th, 1947 [On the European side, in Karaköy, where the Jewish museum is located now].  At the time, I was done with the military, I was working with my father. 

Erna and I had three daughters from our union. Our oldest daughter Sara was born in 1948, Rosita in 1950, Stella in 1954. All three of our daughters attended elementary school in Isik Lisesi. Sara and Stella finished Saint Benoit French highschool later on. Rosita, on the other hand, graduated from Robert College. After completing their education, our oldest daughter Sara, married Erol Penso following 8 years of dating, on March 29th, 1970, in Neve Shalom.

They always lived on the European side, in a modern house. They raised two sons named Ceki (1972) and Niso(1974). Our daughter Sara always wished to study in college, while she was raising her family, (1997) she entered the university placement exam which is very hard and got accepted to the French Language and Literature faculty in ?stanbul Üniversitesi, graduated in 4 years.  She has the right to translate and translates books and scientific articles. Their son Ceki has been married to a nice girl for two years, Niso on the other hand is engaged, G-d willing we will marry him in December. Currently we reside in the same apartment.

Our middle daughter Rosita married Jojo Balibarissever (September 30th 1973), a chemical engineer who graduated from the Bosphorus University, in Neve Shalom after finishing highschool.... My son-in-law worked for long years with Charles Danon who owns the Istanbul branch of Guido Modiano which is centered in Italy. In 1980, Mr. Guido offered my son-in-law a job in Italy since he was very happy with his work. In this way the family moved to Milan. Guido Modiano's company manufactures fabric machines and my son-in-law would market them here, when they moved he started marketing them to the whole world. The company has a profit of %8 from each machine sold, my son-in-law, in addition to his fixed salary, (the boss likes him so much that) gets %1 of this profit. Each machine has a sale price of at least 1.5 million dollars (you can make the calculations). That is why their financial situation thank G-d is very healthy. They had two children, Semi (1977) and Rifka (1976). In this photograph, we had celebrated our granddaughter’s bat-mitzvah, (front row, center) in Italy. Next to her sister is her brother, Semi. Thes children are now grown up. Their son Semi works in a very important advertising company in Italy. Their daughter Rifka studied child psychology in a university in London. During that time she married Remi Menenson (Ashkenazi Jew, French origin) in 2004. They currently reside in London. Rifka works as a child psychologist in a Jewish school in London. 

Our youngest daughter Stella graduated from the Bosphorus University  with a degree in chemical engineering with outstanding achievement.  With the help of the Israeli government she did her masters and doctorate in "The WeismannI?nstitute of Science" in Rehovot for 8 years. After graduating she sent all her diplomas to New York and applied for a job. Of course she was accepted, she has been working as an academic for 20 years while continuing her research. She is now a United States citizen and is single. She comes every summer to Istanbul for 3 weeks to see us.

Interview details

Interviewee: Nesim Alkabes
Meri Schild
Month of interview:
Year of interview:
Istanbul, Turkey


Nesim Alkabes
Year of birth:
City of birth:
Country name at time of birth:
Ottoman Empire
before WW II:
Businessman, retail merchant
after WW II:
Businessman, retail merchant

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