We recently received this lovely post from Aaron Nommaz, honorary consul of Portugal in Istanbul:
Some time ago, I set out to write a book on Dona Gracia in Turkish, as there is none, to serve as a monument and encourage future Turkish writers that would be interested in her. My aim was to dig into the Ottoman archives and get some more information about her.
But, as you might know, it is a difficult task for local academicians, let alone for an engineer-businessman like myself. The director of the Dolmabahçe Palace, who has been the assistant of Halil Inalcik for the past 17 years, is helping me. And I have two master’s degree students of history digging. But so far I am not satisfied with the progress. Since the family had no official status, apart from The Naxos title, there is little written in governmental chronicles.
Presently there is a very popular TV series in Turkey about the “great 100 years” of the empire with Suleyman the Magnificent and Roxelana as main characters. We are looking if we could insert an episode with Dona Gracia to awaken more interest in her.
I am also working with the Portuguese Ambassador to see if we can set up an exhibition that would travel her world, starting in Lisbon ending in Tiberias. We had several meetings with the Portuguese and Turkish ministers of culture and both expressed interest in the subject. There is interest in turning the empty La Sinyora synagogue in Haskoy, Istanbul, into a Dona Gracia museum. We need ideas and material to develop this.
As I finish my book I find that Brooks’ biography, as well as Roth’s, has served as an invaluable guide. Andree Brooks seems to have said all there is to say; but I also made an effort as an Ottoman Jew of Portuguese origin to increase awareness in the local Jewish community as well as a broader circle. And I intend to work a few days in the Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris and perhaps do some research in Venice, if I can find the time. That’s all for now…. Aaron Nommaz, honorary consul of Portugal in Istanbul.