During the early twentieth century, as many as sixty thousand Jews from the Ottoman Empire and its successor states migrated to the United States, mostly settling in New York. While they outnumbered the twenty-five thousand Ottoman Muslims who arrived during the same period, they constituted a small minority compared to the more than two million primarily Yiddish-speaking Jews who came to America. While frequently marginalized within Jewish historiography, Judeo-Spanish (Ladino)-speaking Sephardic Jews from the Eastern Mediterranean have received some scholarly attention in recent years. Building on this scholarship, and by reference to sources from both sides of the Atlantic, including archives and newspapers from New York, Salonica and Istanbul written in Judeo-Spanish, French, Turkish and English, this article provides the first exploration of the ‘‘Ottoman’’ component of Jewish migration from the Eastern Mediterranean.
Set within a transnational framework, this articles focuses on linkages created and retained by Ottoman-born Jews in the ‘‘old wold’’ and in diasporic offshoots in the ‘‘new.’’ How did Jews from the Ottoman Empire, who referred to themselves as Turkinos, conceptualize their relationship with their empire of origin? How did their experiences with other Jews in America or with other migrants from the Ottoman Empire, such as Muslims, Greek Orthodox Christians, or Armenians, shape their understandings of being Ottoman? How did the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire impact the ways in which Ottoman-born Jews in America understood their sense of community and their connections to their land of birth?