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Beki L. Bahar

Beki L. Bahar

First Turkish-Jewish woman playwright
"I'm in love with humanity"

Date of Birth: 16/12/1926 1926

Place of Birth: Istanbul

Date of Death: 19/08/2011 2011

Place of Death: Istanbul

Burial Site: Jewish Ashkenazy Cemetery, Ulus, Istanbul



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Field of Activity

"I am not sure when I started writing. When I was a little kid, we didn't have a television, not even a radio. Those were the times when the kids would entertain the adults. When the whole family got together they made me stand on a chair and recite a poem or pretend to read the newspaper although I didn't know how to read. I can still faintly remember this. As a child I was good at learning things off by heart and very good at improvisation.
In the 10th grade my literature teacher, who was also a writer, encouraged me to write. At first, I did not take it seriously.
The sudden death of my father in 1956 was a big shock for me and made me think hard about life and death. I felt like a rebel in a dark world, looking for answers. I described the helplessness of human kind in serious poetry but I also made fun of myself between the lines.
Because my poetry was taken seriously, my husband encouraged me to write plays. When I was a baby, so it was told, my parents used to take me, together with my feeding bottle, with them to the Şehzadebaşı Theatre. When we lived in Ankara, my husband and I never missed a show. I took my husband's advice and became a playwright. My short play 'Alabora' was staged in 1970 in the Ankara State Theatre, and I have been writing ever since."
(Beki L. Bahar)
Plays of Beki L. Bahar

Beki Bahar's plays are about historical events and characters, with strong women in the leading roles. Her fist play was " Alabora" (Capsized) was staged in 1970 in the Ankara State Theatre.

Staged Plays
  • Alabora
  • Bir Bütün
  • Balat'tan Bronx'a (Musical)
  • İkiyüzbininci Gece
  • Demokles'in kılıcı
  • Evlendik Mutluyuz
  • Erozyon
  • Ölümsüz Kullar (Pudu Hepa)
  • Sıradan Bir Şey
  • İkizler
  • Senyora Grasya Nasi
Published Plays

Toplu Oyunları, Mitos Boyut Yayınları, İstanbul, 2005.

The Sword of Damocles (Flavius ile Demokles - Demokles'in kılıcı), Mitos Boyut Yayınları, İstanbul, 2004.

Senyora Grasya Nasi, İsis Yayınları, İstanbul, 1993, 1995 (Yunus Emre Award).

Senyora Grasya Nasi was translated into French: Doňa Gracia Naci, İsis Yayınları, İstanbul, 2001.

İkizler, Özdemir Yayınevi, İstanbul, 1986.

Ölümsüz Kullar (Pudu Hepa), Memleket Yayınları, İstanbul, 1973.

Unpublished Plays

Sıradan Bir Şey, İstanbul 1984

Beki L. Bahar wrote the play "Sıradan Bir Şey" in 1984, on the 50th anniversary of the introduction of women's suffrage in Turkey.

Poems of Beki L. Bahar

Beki Bahar's first poem was published in 1959 in the Varlık Anthology of New Poems (Yeni Şiirler Antolojisi). Some of her poems were turned into songs.

Published Volumes of Poems
  • Sevdim Onu, Pan Yayıncılık, İstanbul, 2007.
  • Koronas (written in Judeo-Spain), İstanbul, 2002
  • Doğada Düğün, Sümbül Basımevi, İstanbul, 1989
  • Kişi Bunalımı Dişi Bunalımı, Ayyıldız Matbaası, Ankara, 1970
  • Yakamozlar, Ankara, 1960
Beki. L. Bahar, the Writer

Beki Bahar's first essay was published in 1958, in the magazine Haftanın Sesi, and her first short story in 1964, in the magazine Çağdaş Dergisi. Articles by her were published in the Turkish-Jewish newspaper Şalom Gazetesi and in the magazines Eflatun, Tiryaki, Konya Çağrı, and Göztepe.
Beki L. Bahar also contributed articles to Gelişim, a magazine in Turkish published in Israel. She compiled a selection of her articles in the book Ne Kendi Tanır, Ne de Söz Edeni Vardır. This book also contains essays about her travels, the theatre, plays and historical analysis as well as poems translated from English and French

  • Ordan Burdan, Altmış Yılın Ardından, Gözlem Basın Yayınevi, İstanbul, 1995
  • Ne Kendi Tanır Ne De Söz Edeni Vardır, Gözlem Basın Yayınevi, İstanbul, 2000.
  • Efsaneden Tarihe Ankara Yahudileri, Pan Yayınları, İstanbul, 2003
  • Bir zamanlar Çıfıt Çarşısı, Pan Yayınları, İstanbul, 2010


1955 The play Senyora Grasya Nasi won the Yunus Emre Award.


Honorary member of PEN International
Member of the Cultural Association Göztepe Kültür Dernegi, Istanbul


Alliance Jewish Primary School, Istanbul
Ankara College (T.E.D. Ankara Koleji), Ankara
Attended University of Istanbul, Faculty of Law without graduating

Contributions to Society

Family and Friends

  • Mother:Sara Morhayim (tailor)
  • Father:Jak Morhayim (merchant)
  • Grandmother:Ester Malki Benbiçaçi
  • Grandfather:Lia Benbiçaçi (Animal trader)
  • Grandmother:Kadun Baruh Morhayim
  • Grandfather:Eli Morhayim (tailor)
  • Great-grandfather: Natan Malki (composer, poet, silk merchant)
  • Marriage:Jojo Yusuf Bahar (merchant)
  • Daughters:Sara Bahar Filter (psychiatrist), Rezzan Roza Özsarfati (chemist)
  • Son:İzzet Bahar (electrial engineer, historian)
  • Friends:Talat Halman (cultural historian, translator, poet), Recep Bilginer (journalist, poet, dramatist), Güngör Dilmen (dramatist), Gencay Gürün (theater manager), Nesrin Kazankaya (director, theater actress, translator, playwright, theater teacher), Enis Fosforoğlu (theater and cinema actor), Yıldız Kenter (theater actress, director), Cihat Aşkın (violinist, academic, composer), Habib Gerez (painter), Cahide Tümerkan (writer), Sevilay Saral (dramatist), Nurşin Kavukçuoğlu (writer, editor), Işık Gencer (editor), Ferruh Gencer (editor), Remzi Inanç (writer, editor), Fevzi Halıcı (writer, editor), Robert Schild (theater and music critic, philosopher), İzzet Bana (regisseur), Ruzin Gerçin (painter), Semra Güreli, Sevim Göle, Ayten Öztrak, Semra Dağlı

Commemorative Projects

Commemorative Plaque

In 1992 Beki L. Bahar wrote the poem "Ezan, Çan, Hazan" (The Call of the Muezzin, the Church Bells and the Cantor) on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492 and in memory of their reception in the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Bayezit II (ruled 1481-1512).

This poem, engraved on a plaque, was placed during a formal ceremony on a pillar opposite the landing stage in Ortaköy, in memory of the arrival of expelled Jewish ancestors in Istanbul. Beki L. Bahar's signature can also be seen on this metal plaque.

The Poem "Ezan, Çan, Hazan" was set to music in 2006 by Ali Kocatepe and recorded with the Youth Choir of Turkish Radio.

The Call of the Muezzin, the Church Bells and the Cantor (Ezan, Çan, Hazan )

A dilemma
A persecution
A flight
A migration
A torrent

Some arrive safely at their destination
In the land of the Ottomans
Some disappear without a trace
The sea full of secrets
Silent, the path

Somewhere in the Bosporus
Perhaps in Ortaköy
Feet touch dry land
Lips kiss the soil
Bless the land in the name of the Creator
Thank Beyazit Han

A sacred call
Freedom from the shadow of the Cross
The Cantor's joyful psalm-singing
Knots of fear
Dissolve in peace

Ever since then
Very near
They look at each other as friends
In this city

(Beki L. Bahar, 1992, translation into English: Lyndall von Dewitz, 2012)

Further Reading


Quoted Sources:
Source of Visual Images:
  • Private archives of Rezzan Roza Özsarfati and İzzet Bahar
  • Website of the Newspaper Şalom


The Women's Museum Istanbul is grateful to Ms Rezzan Roza Özsarfati, Mr İzzet Bahar, Ms Lina Filiba and to the Newspaper Şalom, Istanbul, for their support in producing the Beki L. Bahar introductory page.

Translation into English: Lyndall von Dewitz, Oberasbach, Bavaria, Germany, Emre Aslay, Chicago İllinois, USA
Editing: Lyndall von Dewitz, Oberasbach/Bavaria, Germany

©2012 Meral Akkent
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