Gathering information on our ancestors who lived in Ankara until 1970.
JEWISH ANKARA (Turk. Engürü, Rom. Ancyra, med. Angora), capital of the Republic of Turkey since 1923. A trading center on the trade route to Persia and the Far East, it was a way station for Jewish merchants. A few settled there permanently. After the expulsion from Spain and Portugal, the number of Jewish settlers increased.
Exiles in large numbers arrived in Ankara, and on their initiative two organized communities (Spanish and Portuguese), which also included the city's previous Jewish inhabitants, were established. The two communities united in the mid-16th century. They numbered 231 Jews in the 1520s and 747 in the 1570s.
The Jews of Ankara engaged in the silk trade, ordering wares from Persia and selling them throughout Turkey, and some merchants became wealthy. The rabbis of Safed decided that the rabbis in Ankara could not be depended on in profound matters of halakhah requiring detailed knowledge, but Moses de Boton and David ha-Kohen, who were consulted by several communities in the vicinity, were exceptions.
The community dwindled as a result of the plague of 1672. In the 18th century, when prosperity returned, a permanent religious court which also supervised communal arrangements was established; business expanded and commercial ties were formed between Ankara and other commercial towns.
In the 19th century there were no decisive changes in the economic situation, but the intellectual level of the community declined, and many Jews left the town. Migration after World War II reduced the Jewish population from 1,500 to 800. There was a certain subsequent increase and in 1968 it numbered 1,000, but in 2005 it was estimated that only 700–800 Jews live there.