Barınyurt Nursing Home and Elderly Care Center


A Centennial Tree

One of the basic teachings of the Jewish religion is benevolence.

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 58:6,7,8,9)


Matan Baseter in Edirne

Based on our records, an institution of that name was first encountered in Edirne. This organization, established to help the families of Jewish soldiers who were martyred or injured in the Balkan Wars before 1917, attracted the attention of the community members from day one and expanded in a short time by gaining the trust and love of the Jews of Edirne with its activities. Members of the “Matan Baseter” sought out people and families who were once wealthy and then suddenly became needy due to economic or social reasons, but did not know how to ask for help or did not want to look needy, and approached them with kindness. Care packages and fuel allowances were distributed with the help of those living in the country and former compatriots who had settled abroad; clothing and shoes were sent out to students, the needy were tried to be comforted and their pain to be relieved to a certain extent. The main principle in all these aid activities was secrecy, not to offend the recipient or confront the donator. During the difficult days of World War II, Edirne Matan Baseter managed to continue its activities despite limited resources.


Matan Baseter in Istanbul

Matan Baseter, Istanbul was founded in 1928 and managed to operate with limited means by those who came from Edirne to settle in our city. While the number of families needing support within the Galata area was 243 at the end of the 19 th century, this number went up to 1230 in the 1940s, due to the increasing population of the region and the economic impact of the Second World War. In those years, Galata, Beyoğlu, Kasımpaşa, Şişli (GBKŞ) districts were inholding the largest Jewish population in the city and therefore the highest number of poor people.

It was decided that the solution to this issue was to “establish a Charity Committee, an autonomous institution to be founded under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate and to create its own resources”. The GBKŞ Community Trustees envisioned the establishment of a dispensary in August 1943, which would support the activities of the Bikur Holim, provide free medical care and medicine to poor patients, and would have a doctor and a nurse available at all times.

In the last months of 1945, with the establishment of the Matan Baseter Charitable Commission in order to help the poor, the sick and the unemployed by allocating a large resource from the GBKŞ Community Budget, the needy would be divided into two categories according to their financial situations. Thus the aid to be provided to them would be standardized and disorder be prevented.

At the beginning of 1946, the administrators of the GBKŞ Community announced that “all donations made under this name will be solely used to soothe the hidden tears”, and the Chief Rabbinate announced that the secret aid to poor families would

resume as before. The community welcomed all cooperation and demonstrated their own support with generous donations.

On January 25, 1948, Matan Baseter proudly celebrated its 20 th anniversary at the First Mixed Jewish Primary School building located on Büyük Hendek Street, in the area where later the Neve Shalom Synagogue would be built. Matan Baseter, known as the “Help for the Needy” within the community, carried out many artistic activities organized in order to expand their publicity.

At the beginning of 1949, the building numbered 61 on Büyük Hendek Street, which was owned by the GBKŞ Community but was in a dilapidated state for years, was renovated thanks to the funds collected through the efforts of the Jewish community and the synagogue administrations. At the end of the renovation, which was realized by spending approximately 25,000 liras, the activities of the GBKŞ community that were scattered in different locations were gathered under the same roof, and the necessary space for a dispensary facility was provided.

Matan Baseter - Bikur Holim (1949-1978)

In a formal notice read in the synagogues on the first day of Passover in 1949, it was announced that the Matan Baseter and Bikur Holim commissions, whose causes complemented each other, were being merged. The commission decided to open a polyclinic in 1949. October 30, 1949, was as a significant day in the history of Matan Baseter - Bikur Holim. A meaningful ceremony was held at the Kenesset Israel Synagogue (Kal de Apollon), decorated with festoons, on the occasion of the opening of the Polyclinic, established in the renovated central building of the community. On Tuesday, February 7, 1950, another historical day took place on Büyük Hendek Street. The official opening ceremony of the Bikur Holim establishment under the name of “Public Dispensary” was held with the participation of the Governor, the Mayor Ord. Prof. Fahrettin Kerim Gökay, the District Governor of Beyoğlu, the Provincial Health Director Dr. Faik Yargıç and the Chief of Police Cemal Göktan.

Reorganization (1978)

At first, the institution that provided financial, medical and medicine aid to people and families in need of financial support especially in the Galata/Beyoğlu area, fell far behind the changing conditions and needs of the community in 1978, both financially and in terms of effective systems and methods. Under these circumstances, the administration had to undergo a series of change. As a first task, they established a group of benevolent, devoted women who, with their personal efforts, had rushed to the aid of the poor and the sick, and gave moral support to them in addition to

financial help. On the one hand, they had to try to help the needy with new principles and methods, and on the other hand, it was necessary to struggle with the hidden misery that resurfaced. Often, well-off families or people who did not know how to ask for help or were too ashamed to do so, were now at the poverty threshold as a result of economic conditions. It was among their priorities to find such people and extend a helping hand to them in complete secrecy, without revealing their names.

Matan Baseter - Bikur Holim Charity Commission, established with the participation of male volunteers, started to work with a brand new team and vision as a result of a structuring reform in line with the needs of the society. Their motto was clear and simple: “fair, immediate and effective assistance in the spirit of brotherhood”.

Matan Baseter in Istanbul…

In the new period that started in 1978, a group of ladies, also called the “magical angels”, were involved in different stages of various activities, identifying people in need, taking into account even the slightest clue, and determining their situation to the smallest detail. During this new period, on top of the traditional monetary aid, monthly food packages were also distributed to those in need.

Every month, packages containing milk, vegetable oil, cheese, eggs, pasta, rice, sugar, detergent and half a kilo of meat per person were distributed to more than 300 families or people. In religious holidays such as Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Kippur and Sukkot, new items were added to the packages, according to the traditions of the holiday.

Hospital and care services were also carried out in parallel with this system, patients were provided with medical care and treatment in the Public Dispensary, when this was not enough in the Or-Ahayim Hospital, and when necessary, private doctors and specialists were consulted and their medicines were provided. On the eve of religious holidays, an additional financial contribution and food supplies such as sweets or deserts, as well as laundry, towels, sheets and cologne were distributed.

In addition to these endeavors, the friendly “magical angels” regularly visited the people or families they were responsible for, tried to find solutions to their family isues as well as their financial needs, took care of their children’s lessons or the dowry of their daughters who were about to get married, and provided moral strength to families. Due to the decrease in the number of orphans in this new period, instead of keeping these children in an orphanage, efforts were being made to place them with some families in need, who were suitable for raising children, by paying their monthly expenses. During this period, in addition to the routine administrative and financial work that was well established by then, the Kapparot issue of the community was dealt with.

Kapparot ceremony which is a very important tradition in Judaism, is an offering made especially on the eve of Yom Kippur, with the hope of forgiveness of faults, and generally in the form of sacrificing a rooster or a chicken. An agreement was reached with a slaughterhouse in Sütlüce in order to establish the slaughtering and the distribution, which was practiced randomly and without supervision until that day, and slaughter began to be executed by a shohet within the framework of an organized calendar. The sacrificed chickens were distributed to the needy in the fastest manner, without causing any waste.

Matan Baseter - Bikur Holim’s helping hand also included the districts of Hasköy, Balat, Ortaköy and Kuzguncuk, in addition to Şişhane and its surroundings, which was known as the Center. For a sound assessment of the financial situation of those asking for support, the household, the situation of those who were able to work, the status of illness and disability, the rent and living conditions of the house were also examined during this period, and coordination methods were developed with other charitable foundations. More than seven years had passed since the reorganization of Matan Baseter, which had begun in 1978. They had come to these days thanks to the inexhaustible vigor of the women who were the “patrons of the needy”, and the momentum of the newcomers. However, needs were changing over time. Housing was the most important issue among numerous problems faced by the administration. In the neighborhoods that transformed into business districts, rents had risen to an unaffordable level. What could have been done? Restoring an unused building belonging to the community, and allocating one or two floors to the homeless was discussed at the board. This view gained importance with the support of the Chief Rabbinate’s Administration. The Second Mixed Jewish Primary School building was inspected and evaluated, the green light was given to take necessary action and a technical committee started to conceptualize the project.

The first part that was completed in a year and a half with the financial means available, included two floors below the ground floor, with a total of 14 rooms, seven at each floor, all equipped with a two-door wardrobe, two beds with two drawers, a night table and a mini fridge. These floors also housed a large living room, a spacious and luminous dining room and a bathroom. The bottom floor opened onto a summer garden. A dream had been fulfilled. The building named II. Karma – Barınyurt was put into service with an emotional ceremony on Sunday, December 1, 1991. 11 lodgers with no place to live were settled here.

Volunteering ladies were doing the shopping, cooking, serving the meals, and they were eating all together in a warm, family atmosphere. Who would have guessed that day that the scope of this cooking adventure, which volunteers started with “a single pot”, would expand in the following years and turn into an “international professional catering” business – the praise of which is increasing day by day? That while housing 30 people up until 1993, it would be able to accommodate 60-65 people after the construction of the upper floors? Barınyurt’s 2nd anniversary celebration was on Sunday, January 16, 1994. The elevator reaching all six floors, a fully-equipped kitchen, and one of the final three floors that was completed were put into service on this meaningful day. The usual activities of the Matan Baseter Welfare Branch and the work to finalize the Barınyurt building continued for three years with great devotion and enthusiasm.

In 1995, with the increase in the number of lodgers, new logistics requirements arose. So it was decided to start building a large and modern kitchen on February 6, 1995, and the project started to accrue thanks to new donations.

Meanwhile, the proposal to build an annex on the land next to the Barınyurt building was also being discussed. While Matan Baseter that adopted the principle of making charity an art of social solidarity was expanding its service area, the idea of building a covered terrace on the upper floor with a breathtaking view of the Bosphorus, the Anatolian side and the historical peninsula began to be discussed.

On March 16, 1995, a Purim Festival was celebrated for the first time in Matan Baseter, together with the lodgers of Barınyurt, accompanied by a short program and treats. Many more celebrations with the participation of the management and guests followed this first one. In April 1995, a Passover celebration with foreign guests and tourists, followed by Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, and Sukkot holidays were celebrated for the first time in the premises. Likewise, Hanukkah and Tu Bishvat were celebrated with various shows, and shortly this became a tradition. Also, lodgers were taken to lunch by buses or volunteers’ cars on sunny days, and were invited monthly to a waterfront fish restaurant on the Bosphorus.

They constantly continued to improve the comfort and security of Barınyurt residents. Day and night care was provided by alternating nurses; doctors came twice a week to examine the lodgers, their condition was kept on a close watch with health charts, and a special menu was prepared for diabetic patients. Although the proposal to employ a professional cook was not welcomed at first due to financial worries, it would become one of the agenda items in future meetings. During this period, they started sending greeting cards to donors for the holidays, with a mini silver gift attached to it.

On February 15, 1998, on the occasion of Tu Bishvat, a musical day was organized for Barınyurt lodgers. After the speech of the president who shared the meaning of the day, apricot and peach trees were planted in Barınyurt’s garden for the first time and therefore the tradition of this day, known as the “tree planting holiday” was kept alive. Its name, which was known as Matan Baseter - Bikur Holim until then, was changed to Matan Baseter - Barınyurt in 1998. And the devoted volunteers started to be called “Barınyıldız” (the stars of Barın).

In order to meet the worship needs of Barınyurt residents, a Prayer Room was opened on Sunday, November 15, 1998. On the other hand, in February 2000, a new step was taken on therapy activities in order to ensure that Barınyurt lodgers would stay in touch with the daily life; those who participated in the handcraft or spiritual therapy sessions were encouraged to knit, dye, create with various fabric and buttons, and their end products were shown to the visitors. In October 2000, they launched a “Sister Family Campaign”. The goal in this campaign was for the donor to select a “sister family” and meet their monthly or annual needs (food, clothing, health, etc.).

Again in this period, the “Barınstars” would go to the kitchen and prepare meals for the lodgers or any organized event. The issue of hiring a professional cook was often an item of discussion during board meetings. The idea of professional “catering” for additional income was brought up and this idea led to some attempts for tryout. Meanwhile, the institution’s kosher kitchen was being established thanks to the support of donors.

The project of an indoor - terrace lounge built on the upper floor of the building could only be put into service with a nice ceremony held on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 due to various financial and legal problems. In November 2000, the Turkish Jewish Community organized an iftar (breaking fast at Ramadan) dinner for the first time. Within the concept of interreligious dialogue and harmony, to which the administrators of Beyoğlu (where most of the community institutions are located) district were invited. The dinner took place on the terrace floor of Barınyurt, which was put into service a month ago.

Taking advantage of the fact that fresh flowers were not admitted in hospitals, the board came up with the idea of sending young women who just gave birth a gift they named “Welcome Baby” instead of flowers. An alternative way to generate income was the gift packages. Another meaningful gesture was to donate the needy a Clothing Package, a Holiday Special Food Package or a Monthly Food Allowance Package on behalf of relatives and friends.

On September 3, 2004, Barınyurt got its license as “Neve Şalom Jewish Synagogue Foundation Barınyurt Nursing Home”. In the meantime, taking into account the rising needs of the building, the rooms on the first and second floors were redesigned, the bathrooms and plumbing were modernized, and a new aspect was given to the floors in order to raise the living standards of the lodgers.

There was a need to “create a corporate identity, in order to introduce the institution, its purpose, its targets and its activities to the public, and to inform the community about the services it provided”. For this, a public relations department was established, and the administrative structure was empowered by professional staff. Close relations were established with the Provincial Directorate of Social Services by recruiting a Social Services Specialist. As a matter of fact, all these efforts paid off, and during a meeting of the Social Services Directorate, Barınyurt was nominated as a “model nursing home” among 60 nursing homes based in Istanbul.

The proposal to transform the Ida Kohen building into a “Rehabilitation Center”, which envisaged that mentally and physically disabled patients staying in Balat Or-Ahayim and Balıklı Greek Hospitals could stay together, was one of the priority items of the new management agenda, considerimg that their health conditions were not suitable to be accommodated in Barınyurt. At the end of major initiatives, the necessary license was obtained with the support of the Provincial Directorate of Social Services and the Child Protection Agency, and a 43-bed facility was established within the building, which was divided into women, men and geriatrics wings. On the one hand, as required by the regulation, psychiatrists, psychologists and one nurse for every ten patients were recruited and administrative rooms were being organized, on the other hand, beds were being replaced by hospital beds, and the windows were reinforced with wrought iron railings to prevent any kind of accident. Again, the number of families supported by the institution was increasing in parallel with the worsening economic conditions, and the situation was becoming more serious, especially when health problems were involved. Every month, food packages containing 18 products to meet monthly nutritional requirements were sent to approximately 200 families, and donations of all kinds including clothing, furniture and domestic appliances were collected and distributed to those in need. The expenses of young brides about to get married were supported from the existing dowry fund as before, and their wedding dresses as well as domestic appliances were covered from that fund.

Established in December 2003, “Barınyurt Nursing Home Commercial Enterprise” continues to offer their services at celebrations held at homes as well as within community institutions, and their product and service quality is expanding under ‘La Casa de Barınyurt’ brand. In view of this success, the idea of preparing kosher food to be sold in supermarkets has developed. Ten frozen products, prepared with the permission of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the Chief Rabbinate’s Kashrut Certificate, began to be sold for the same price at predetermined sales points. Mini tartlets (with vegetable, spinach, eggplant), chocolate pies (large-medium), spinach pastries, spinach ravioli, cheese patty (large-small), spring rolls, meatballs and lasagna with soy meat were put up for sale in fireproof boxes with a note on how they should be prepared. These ready meals in fireproof boxes, sold in the supermarkets situated where Jewish families lived, could be baked after opening. Barınyurt Nursing Home Commercial Enterprise’s negotiations with Do-Co Catering108, the catering service of Turkish Airlines, regarding the provision of kosher meals to inflight passengers, were one of the top initiatives of this period. After more than one and a half years of negotiations, a final agreement was reached on the provision of fresh, unfrozen, kosher meals on Turkish Airlines and Star Alliance flights departing from Istanbul.

The kosher catering service, which started in August 2009, now covers flights to 50 destination cities. The aforementioned catering service is prepared in modern and healthy conditions, and consists of five menus that bear the approval certificate of the Chief Rabbinate of Turkey and of OK, one of the world’s leading institutions that issue kashrut certificates. La Casa Catering is now available for weddings, engagements ceremonies, Bar Mitzvas, Bat Mitzvas, Brit Milas, Vijolas and similar occasions, seuda and Limmud dinners at Yeniköy Tiferet Israel, Kemerburgaz Shaar Hashamaim and Caddebostan Beth-El Synagogues, business meetings, picnics, store and exhibition openings. They became a sought-after institution with their delicious kosher treats that appeal to the eye and the palate in all sorts of organizations, and had a say in arranging iftar meals and providing kosher lunches for offices.

The Iftar Dinner organized by the Minority Community Foundations in the garden of the Istanbul Archeology Museum on Sunday, 28 August 2011, with the participation of the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, Minister for European Union Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış, Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertuğrul Günay, Minister of National Education Ömer Dinçer, Governor of Istanbul Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, Head of Religious Affairs Mehmet Görmez, Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva, Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew, Head of Syriac Community Kenan Altunışık, President of Turkish Jewish Community Sami Herman, President of Surp Pirgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation Bedros Şirinoğlu, Deputy Armenian Patriarch Bishop Aram Ateşyan, Syriac Orthodox Spiritual Leader Yusuf Çetin and community representatives was successfully held by La Casa Catering with the participation of nearly 750 guests.

Considering the need for a kosher restaurant, La Casa opened a restaurant on the back alley of Beth Yaakov Synagogue in Şişli in November 2011, serving at very affordable prices and that is open on Sundays.

In January 2012, the geriatrics ward of Barınyurt closed and the 12 in-patients were transferred to a special section of the Balıklı Greek Hospital within the framework of a health program organized by the Chief Rabbinate. The performance, prepared by the lodgers under the supervision of therapist Dicle Doğan, was presented to a large audience on the European Day of Jewish Culture 2010 and was highly appreciated.


Temeli Matan Baseter-Barınyurt, which was founded in Edirne in 1917 and has been active in Istanbul since 1928, continues its efforts to support and help the poor, the needy, the homeless, and the sick.

The help for the poor patients, hospital and medicine expenses are organized by the Association for Supporting Poor Patients and Housing the Orphans. The funds of this association are met by donations from various organizations and individuals.

Barınyurt Nursing Home is directly affiliated with the Neve Shalom Synagogue Foundation. The donations made to the Barınyurt Nursing Home Charity Association, which was established in 2003, and the income obtained by La Casa de Barınyurt Commercial Enterprise, which is actively operating since 8 December 2003, are allocated to meet the needs of Barınyurt.

The institution is taking firm steps towards the future by expanding thanks to its volunteers and competent management who are fully devoted to their duties. The most important problem facing the institution today is the project of bringing Matan Baseter - Barınyurt and the Association for Helping the Elders under the same roof, within the framework of the expansion program envisaged by the Community Administration.

Barınyurt and Association for Helping the Elders started to serve under the name of “OR YOM” as of June 2014.



Compiled by Naim A. GÜLERYÜZ


We are stronger

with your donations

Graphic design: Robert Zilberman

© 2022 All rights belong to the Neve Shalom Sephardi Synagogues Foundation.

You can access our Clarification Text and Policy on the Protection of Personal Data to learn about the purposes of processing and transferring personal data, as well as the methods and legal reasons for personal data collection.

In a formal notice read in the synagogues on the first day of Passover in 1949, it was announced that the Matan Baseter and Bikur Holim commissions, whose causes complemented each other, were being merged. The commission decided to open a polyclinic in 1949. October 30, 1949, was as a significant day in the history of Matan Baseter - Bikur Holim. A meaningful ceremony was held at the Kenesset Israel Synagogue (Kal de Apollon), decorated with festoons, on the occasion of the opening of the Polyclinic, established in the renovated central building of the community. On Tuesday, February 7, 1950, another historical day took place on Büyük Hendek Street. The official opening ceremony of the Bikur Holim establishment under the name of “Public Dispensary” was held with the participation of the Governor, the Mayor Ord. Prof. Fahrettin Kerim Gökay, the District Governor of Beyoğlu, the Provincial Health Director Dr. Faik Yargıç and the Chief of Police Cemal Göktan.