12 November 2019

TİKA Renovates the Tombstone of Zeki Effendi in Sarajevo

Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) renovated the tombstone of Moshe ben Rafael Attias, who was a prominent figure for the Jewish Population in Bosnia and Herzegovina and known as Zeki Effendi since he adopted the alla turca fashion style.

According to the written statement of TİKA, the tombstone of Zeki Effendi, one of the unknown heroes of Jewish-Muslim Cooperation, was renovated. The tombstone, which is located in the Jewish Cemetery in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, bears inscriptions in Ottoman, Hebrew, and Bosnian. In the statement, it is underlined that Zeki Effendi’s tombstone is the only Jewish tombstone with inscriptions in the Ottoman, Hebrew, and Latin (Bosnian) alphabets, according to Eli Tauber, a Jewish researcher and author. The statement continues as follows: “The Jewish Cemetery was heavily damaged due to the violent clashes at the cemetery during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s. The tombstone of Zeki Effendi, one of the prominent figures in Sarajevo, was also cracked and damaged by bullet holes. The renovation of the tombstone of Zeki Effendi, the unknown hero of Jewish-Muslim cooperation, was carried out by TİKA, which addresses the needs and problems of our geography of hearts regardless of the religion, language, or race of the people and extends Turkey’s helping hand to all groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

– Who is Zeki Effendi?

Moshe ben Rafael Attias was born in 1845 to a prominent Jewish family in Sarajevo and studied an Islamic curriculum at an Ottoman school with his Muslim classmates. Attias studied the poems of Saadi Shirazi to examine Islamic culture in detail. He worked as an archivist, translator, and financial consultant in Sarajevo under the Ottoman rule and continued to work as an Ottoman translator under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He died in 1916.

– The Important Story Told by Zeki Effendi

Attias, known as Zeki Effendi, also shed light on a historical incident, which took place in 1819 in Sarajevo and was one of the best examples of Jewish-Muslim cooperation. In this incident, which took place in 1819, Governor Ruzdi Pasha arrested Chief Rabbi Moshe Danon and 10 Jews and demanded a high amount of ransom to release them. However, Sarajevo Muslims revolted against the governor, and the prisoners were released. The anniversary of this historical incident is celebrated every year by Sarajevo Jews as a holiday called “Purim” or “Purim di Saray.” On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Purim, an international conference titled “Sarajevo Purim Holiday” will be held on November 7, 2019 with the support of TİKA in cooperation with the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Jewish Community. Furthermore, an exhibition of archival documents from this period will be organized, and a book on this subject will be published.


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