On the Trail of Turkey’s Donmeh

Wednesday 14 November, 8pm: When Shabbetai Zvi, Judaism’s false Messiah, converted to Islam in 1666,  he took hundreds of his followers with him. Their descendants became known as Turkey’s Donmeh. They were outwardly Muslim, but still performed Jewish practices. Few of the Dönmeh admit to their identity, but estimates of their numbers range from 15,000 to 100,000 or more.

Who are these secret people who inhabit a limbo between Judaism and Islam? How are they viewed by Turkish society?
Was Kamal Ataturk a Donmeh? Was Turkey’s only woman Prime Minister a descendant of Shabbetai Zvi?

Harif’s intrepid and entertaining emissary Dr Saul Zadka has been to Izmir, a city where Donmeh still live, and has come back with some intriguing insights. His illustrated talk is bound to be unmissable and will answer the following questions: What is the connection between the Izmir Jewish community and the French singer Brigitte Bardot? Who sang the musical hit “Ya Mustafa”?.

£8. Holland Park synagogue, St James’ Gardens. London W11. Harif/Spiro Ark. Tel Harif 07506033848 or Spiro Ark 0207 723 9991.