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Karaites abroad - Constantinople (Istanbul)

(From our correspondent)

Local Karaite community has at these days more than 200 families.
It is what remained from the Karaite community of Constantinople, from the community that was in the past famous for own wealth and for great scholars and for high quantity of members.
Life of Constantinople Karaites flowed for many years in the favourable atmosphere, because Turks treated to them kindly.
Before the approval and implementation of constitution, that granted the equal civil rights for all people of Turkey, Constantinople Karaites enjoyed a lot of prerogatives and civil privileges.
They were exempted from many taxes; they could trade without special permissions, their hospital was subsidized by the state, etc.
Currently this hospital almost does not work.  

Karaites have two synagogues; the older of them represents a rare and noteworthy monument of ancient oriental architecture.
The new synagogue was built relatively recently.
The great interest arouse two Karaite prayer houses that remained well preserved in Adrianopole (Edirne).
In Adrianopole once lived Karaites in a large number, at these days lives there no Karaite.

For a long time were these prayer houses empty, until one of them acquired local Talmudists and the second one rebuilt local Greeks into their church. 

It is strange, that Karaites of Constantinople do not solve this seizure, even if they have in their possession the documents that can prove ownership of these ancient Karaite temples.

The head of Constantinople Karaites is the local hakham rabbi Beraha Yefet.

The general revival is the characteristic for the life in Turkey during the last years after the coup, and this revival is reflected also in the Karaite community.
Before the election into the young Turkish parliament was offered to Karaites of Constantinople to nominate own deputy.
Unfortunately it is necessary to admit that they were not able to nominate this deputy.
Two respectable and suitable persons rejected this honourable offer.
It was supposed a candidacy of Dr. M. B. Egiz, but he unfortunately at that time finished a course in University of Constantinople.

At that time was also solved issue of education of ethno-confessional (electoral) groups (so called curia (sing.), curiae (pl.)); rabbanites of Constantinople highlighted that local Karaites have not own schools, nor public institutions, and that Karaites represent only extremely small entity; rabbanites (from these reasons) presupposed that Karaite would be during elections included as a part of Jewish curia.
These circumstances caused awakening of national self-consciousness among Karaites of Constantinople.
Among them raised a wave of cultural movement.
And the first result of this movement was establishment of Karaite Male Gymnasium (High School).

This high school (Gymnasium), established thanks to efforts of local Karaite community, works for two years.
This school attend more than 70 students, 55 of them are Karaite boys, the rest are rabbanites.
This fact points to the fact that antagonism between Karaites and rabbanites of Constantinople is reduced at these days; this antagonism sometimes in past acquired scary dimension.
Principal of this high school (Gymnasium) is above mentioned Dr. M. B. Egiz.
Funds for the maintenance of the high school (Gymnasium) provide the (Karaite) Djamat (Cemaat; community) of Constantinople and in addition also some of prominent members of Karaite community voluntarily pledged themselves to pay monthly contributions in favour of this school.


The high school (Gymnasium) was approved by the Turkish Ministry of Education.

Students of this school after completion of the education will pass exams in the level of state high schools and they will have the right to study in the higher educational institutions.

Together with common (non-religious) subjects are taught in the depth also Biblical Hebrew and the Law of God.

Funds for the maintenance of the high school (Gymnasium) are not still enough, and from this reason the principal of the high school (Gymnasium) went a short time ago into Russia to collect money for support of this school among Karaites of Russia.  

As was reported in St. Petersburg is already collected more than 2 000 rubles and in Moscow about 400 rubles.

At these days Dr. M. B. Egiz rides around the Crimean towns.

Abraham Hasköylü