One hundred years ago, 1.300 Jews lived in Kirklareli. Today, there are only three left. Born and raised in Kirklareli, Mrs. Berta Magriso left her hometown after she lost her husband to move in with her children in Istanbul. We spoke with her about the past, the present and her longings...
Şalom Gazetesi - 18 Aralık 2014
Kirklareli has always been a very modern city. When I was a young
girl, I used to ride my bike in the city. We were a modern community,
dedicated to our traditions and customs yet we were not devoutly
religious. We observed the laws of Kashrut . My father wouldn’t smoke on
Shabbat and wouldn’t let anyone in the house light a fire. However, men
opened their stores after the Saturday morning prayer.
My father was a devout Jew. He handled the needs of the synagogue. My
mother wouldn’t ask me to do chores in the house; I led a pretty
comfortable life. But, apparently, when in need people do all sorts of
things. When my father’s assistant died, he asked me to help him at the
synagogue. I helped him by of sewing shrouds, cleaning Torah Rolls,
doing night shifts and taking care of the sick people.
I married a man from Kirklareli. A few more couples also married in
Kirklareli. As I recall Alevis, Abravanels and Kanetis were among those
couples. Since young people in Kirklareli already knew each other, they
would marry someone from Edirne, Corlu or Istanbul. The wedding
ceremonies used to take place at Kirklareli Synagogue. Mongers from
general society worked at the shops below the synagogue. We had close
bonds with the general society, in other words we were completely
integrated. But, we were not assimilated. I remember there was only one
woman who married someone from another faith. We had many friends from
the general society. Our friends and neighbors accepted us as their
fellow townsmen. We never experienced religious segregation. We used to
visit each other, all the time. They invited us to meetings and
get-togethers at Community Center and Officer’s Club. At those meetings
and get-togethers, we all sat together and had fun. For many years at
the Mothers Association, I worked alongside my friends from the general
society. We used to raise money to support students’ education and visit
mothers in jail, on Mother’s Day. Since almost all of us knew
needlecrafts, we sewed pretty things and sold them at the charity fairs.
With the money we raised from those fairs, we supported students living
in the Orphanage.
Were young Jews educated at those times? What did men used to do for a living? What did women do in their spare times?