by Alice Sparberg Alexiou

Fanny in Ottoman Palestine

Last July, a few days after the marriage of my older son, Alex, and his beautiful Turkish bride, Ayse, we all — the young couple and various members from both sides of our astonishingly diverse family — gathered at the dining room table in my mother’s house in Great Neck, New York. There I was with my mother, Esther; my younger son, Joseph; and Alex — all New York Jews — and my Greek husband, Nick, originally from Salonika, who became a Jew soon after we married; and my cousin Hasida and her daughter Yael, who had come from Israel for Alex’s wedding; and Ayse’s sister, Cigdem; and their parents, Mehmet and Gul, from Ankara, Turkey. (Try to keep the cast of characters straight, because what comes next is a bit of a genealogical roller-coaster ride.)

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