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Rav.Nisim Behar

Name, Surname :Rav.Nisim Behar

Date & Place of Birth: 1913, Bursa, Turkey

Date of Aliyah : 1969

Date of death : September 24, 1990

Schools Attended : Hasköy Alliance Israelite School and the Jewish High School in Istanbul; philosophy and theology seminars at the Kibbutz Magdiel in Israel which he attended between 1942-1945.

Profession : Rabbi, Hebrew and religious studies scholar

CV: Nisim, whose family had moved from Bursa to Istanbul Hasköy when he was very young, was enrolled at the Alliance Israelite School. When he was 7- 8 years old, he learned from Rabbi Yakir Maya at the Hasköy Talmud-Torah. During his high school years, he became the student of Dr. David Markus, the Director of the Jewish High School and the Chief Rabbi of the Ashkenazi Community.

He met Rafael Illel at a young age, with whom he would become friends and have many common projects both in Turkey as well as in Israel after his Aliyah. The two young men learned from distinguished rabbis such as Rabbi Rafael Saban, Rabbi Moshe Benhabip, and Rabbi Yaakov Aruete until they were 18.

A year later, the two friends decided to educate their own students. They began to teach religious subjects to students of the Jewish school on Saturdays and Sundays at the Zülfaris Synagogue, especially teaching Tefila, Halahot and Jewish history. Thus, the Mahazike Torah was founded.

This organization, which started with 20-30 children in 1939, moved to the Knesset Yisrael Synagogue in Şişhane and reached up to 400-500 students within a short time. After 4-5 years of studies, the Mahazike Tora youth started to work in various synagogues in Istanbul.

Rabbi Nisim Behar, a visionary, sent many young people to the important Yeshivas in Jerusalem with the aim of having trained Rabbis, graduates from these yeshivas, serve in the future Rabbinate Spiritual Council (Bet-Din).

Rabbi Behar made Aliyah to Israel in 1969 and settled in Bat Yam. He gathered men of Turkish origin, (and especially students) in a short time and built the Mahazike Tora Synagogue. In addition, with the help of his friends Pardo and Illel, he opened a girls’ school called Or Ahayim where a thousand girls conforming to Jewish religious practices would be educated. Later, a school for boys was opened next to the girls' school. After his death, one of the important streets of the City of Bat Yam was named after Rabbi Nisim Behar.

Works / Publications:

Rabbi Behar wrote about 40 books. His first book “More Adereh - Silaberyo Para Embezarse A Meldar En Ebreo Sin Professor (Syllable Book for Starting to Read Hebrew Without a Teacher)” was published in 1942.

He published many books after 1946, including books on Jewish history and works such as "La Kaza Cudia" (Jewish House) and "La Meza Cudia" (Jewish Dining Table), in which he explains the rules of hygiene and kosher cooking a Jewish woman should pay attention to; as well as speech manuals for Hebrew learners. However, his most well-known work is "El Gid Para El Pratikante" (Religious Practice Guide), which has been translated into many languages and has been regarded as the Jewish Religious Guide, important enough to be compared with the Shulhan Aruch by all Sephardic communities in the world.

Outstanding and Lasting Contribution /Reasons for Selection:

Rabbi Nisim Behar trained a large number of rabbis in the Mahazike Torah, and was instrumental in their making Aliyah to Israel. He wrote many books on Jewish history and religion contributing significantly to the religious education of Jews in Turkey.

He made a superior and lasting contribution to religious education with the synagogue and the high school for girls he established in Israel. The girls' high school continues to contribute to the education of young generations with the boys' high school next to it.


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