Jewish Sites in Bursa, Turkey

Last Updated on April 25, 2019

Bursa’s Jewish community dates from Byzantinetimes.

After the Ottoman conquest of Bursa in 1324, Sultan Orhan permitted building of the Etz ha-Hayyim Synagogue, used for over 600 years.

Since Israel’s founding in 1948, the Jewish community in Bursa has dwindled to about 140 persons. Only two synagogues remain active, the more impressive being the Gerush Synagogue.

Getting There

From Bursa’s Ulu Cami (Great Mosque), walk for 10 or 15 minutes, or take a taxi or dolmus, westward along Atatürk Caddesi, Cemal Nadir Caddesi and Altiparmak Caddesi to the Çatal Firin bus stop, across from the Sabahettin Pasa Camii.

Across Altiparmak Caddesi is Sakarya Caddesi, a street roughly parallel. Now a pedestrian street lined with seafood restaurants, Sakarya Caddesi was once the main thoroughfare of this small Jewish quarter. The Gerush Synagogue is several blocks down on the left-hand side.

Renovated in the 1700s, it is light, airy and attractive,with an unusual floor plan: a circle of pillarssurround the bema in the center of the room, supporting a dome. Benches are along the walls; the ark is opposite the entrance, and there are attractive stained glass lights over the entrance door.

The Gerush’s Torahs were brought from Spain by Sephardic immigrants five centuries ago.

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