Agis, Derya. November 6 – 8, 2006. “Anecdotes of “Hodja Nasreddin” (“Nasrettin Hoca”) in the Judeo-Spanish and Turkish Languages.” 3rd International Children and Communication Congress & 3rd International Children Films Festival & Congress
Agis, Derya. November 6 – 8, 2006. “Anecdotes of “Hodja Nasreddin” (“Nasrettin Hoca”) in the Judeo-Spanish and Turkish Languages.” 3rd International Children and Communication Congress & 3rd International Children Films Festival & Congress ‘Tailoring Identities for Future Children,’ Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Agis, Derya. November 6 – 8, 2006. “Anecdotes of “Hodja Nasreddin” (“Nasrettin Hoca”) in the Judeo-Spanish and Turkish Languages.” 3rd International Children and Communication Congress & 3rd International Children Films Festival & Congress
TÜRKİYE’DE ÇOCUKLARA ANLATILAN MUSEVİ İSPANYOLCASI VE TÜRKÇE
DİLLERİNDEKİ “NASREDDIN HOCA” (NASRETTİN HOCA) BİLMECELERİ
Hacettepe University, TURKEY
RIDDLES OR ANECDOTES OF “HODJA NASREDDIN” (“NASRETTIN HOCA”) IN THE
JUDEO-SPANISH AND TURKISH LANGUAGES NARRATED TO CHILDREN IN TURKEY
In this study, I aim to analyze the famous anecdotes where the funny, and originally Turkish character of Hodja
Hasreddin (Nasrettin Hoca) is presented not only in Turkish, but also in Judeo-Spanish. These anecdotes are
narrated by Turkish Muslim people in Turkish, and by Turkish Jewish people, thus, the Sepharads – the Jews,
who emigrated from Spain to the Ottoman Empire in 1492 - in Judeo-Spanish. These anecdotes are narrated to
children from both cultures.
I propose that the children can be raised as perfect individuals, as long as they interpret these anecdotes
correctly. For the correct interpretation of these anecdotes, these children may invent some metaphors, called
conceptual keys, in their mind. Thus, Cognitive Linguistics is a good tool for understanding what these
anecdotes can teach children from both cultures.
Therefore, I am going to examine the diverse traditions, the diverse human and animal characters and figures,
and the other different items used in the anecdotes of Hodja Nasreddin narrated by people belonging to two
different cultures. These characters, figures, and objects are effective in the perception of the main theme and
the jokes of these anecdotes by Muslim and Jewish children, as they lead to the activation of the right brain
parts in understanding different cultural concepts.
Briefly, the use of diverse concepts is useful for the cognitive or mental development, and for the cultural
formation of the children. I aim to discover all of these concepts leading to the jokes in the anecdotes of Hodja
Nasreddin in both languages and in both cultures.
Key words: Cognitive Linguistics, Nasrettin Hoca (Nasreddin Hodja), Sephardic Culture, Turkish Culture,
Child Instruction and Education
Bu çalışmada, komik ve aslı Türk olan Nasrettin Hoca karakterini işleyen Türkçe ve Yahudi İspanyolcası
dillerindeki fıkralarını incelemeyi amaçlıyorum. Bu fıkralar, Müslüman Türklerce Türkçe ve Musevi Türklerce
(1492 yılında İspanya’dan Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’na göçen Museviler tarafından) de Yahudi İspanyolcası
dillerinde anlatılır. Bu fıkralar iki kültürün çocuklarına da anlatılmaktadır.
Bu fıkraları doğru bir şekilde yorumladıkları takdirde çocukların mükemmel bireyler olarak
yetiştirilebileceklerini ileri sürüyorum. Bu fıkraların doğru bir şekilde yorumlanabilmesi için çocuklar
zihinlerinde kavramsal anahtarlar adı verilen metaforlar keşfedebilirler. Dolayısıyla, Bilişsel Dilbilim iki
kültürün çocuklarına bu fıkraların ne öğretebileceğini anlamak için iyi bir araçtır.
Bu nedenle, iki kültüre de ait olan Nasrettin Hoca fıkralarında kullanılan farklı gelenekleri, farklı insan ve
hayvan figürlerini ve diğer değişik araç – gereçleri inceleyeceğim. Farklı kültürel kavramların anlaşılmasında
doğru beyin bölgesinin harekete geçmesini sağlayarak, bu karakterler, figürler ve nesneler fıkraların ana
fikrinin ve şakalarının Müslüman ve Musevi çocuklar tarafından anlaşılmasında etkilidirler.
Derya Agiş, Hacettepe University, Department of English Linguistics, email@example.com
Kısacası farklı kavramların kullanımı çocukların bilişsel veya zihinsel gelişimine ve kültürel formasyonuna
faydalıdır. Ben iki dile ve kültüre ait olan Nasrettin Hoca fıkralarındaki şakalara yol açan bütün bu
kavramları bulmayı amaçlıyorum.
Anahtar kelimeler: Bilişsel Dilbilim, Nasrettin Hoca fıkraları, Sefarad Kültürü, Türk Kültürü, Çocuk Öğrenimi
In this paper, I intend to discover the similarities and differences in the anecdotes of Nasrettin Hoca (Hodja
Nasreddin) and of the Sephardic Djoha. The customs narrated in the former represent elements of the Turkish
Islamic culture, and usually the customs of Ottomans, since Hoca is always old in these anecdotes, whereas the
Djoha of the Sepharads, thus, of the Jews who emigrated from Spain to the Ottoman Empire, reflects the
customs of the Jews not only during the period of the Ottoman Empire, but also in the modern world, as the
Sephardic Djoha can be a child, an adolescent, or an adult.
All of these anecdotes have an undeniable impact on children. They are useful for teaching the cultural
elements, customs, and various attidues and skills to children. As we teach the anecdotes of both cultures to
children, these children will respect others from different cultures, who speak different mother tongues and have
a different religion. The anecdotes of Nasreddin Hodja are perfect peacebuilders.
Briefly, this study will examine the cognitive effects of the anecdotes of Nasrettin Hoca and Djoha on the
children of both Turkish and Sephardic cultures, and will highlight the best education methods to raise children
as peacebuilders and respectful members of the society.
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
Various studies on the anecdotes of Nasrettin Hoca (Hodja Hasreddin) and Djoha have been conducted. One of
them belongs to Beki Bardavid; in her work Bardavid (1997) compares Hodja Hasreddin tales, belonging to
Turkish and Sephardic cultures. She explains that Sepharads called intelligent and funny children Djoha, and
this character is represented sometimes as a young, and sometimes as an old person in the Sephardic anecdotes;
this character can be intelligent, stupid, clever, pure, sad, and happy in both cultures; besides, he has always
moral values, but in the Turkish anecdotes, he is always old. In addition, she also cites that the Turkish Hoca
speaks Turkish, whereas the Jewish Djoha speaks Judeo-Spanish.
Moreover, Civelek (2005) compares Turkish Nasrettin Hoca anecdotes to Cuha-el-Arabi anecdotes. He
mentions the similarities and differences between the Turkish and Arabic anecdotes from a folkloristic point of
view. At this point, we can mention that the name Djoha might have been derived from the Arabic word Cuha.
Also, Fedai (2001) conducted a comparative study: he compared Hodja Nasreddin tales narrated by Greeks and
Cypriot Turks, and he suggests that Cuha is the Arabic version of Djoha and Hoca.
There are too many observations of the anecdotes of Hodja Nasreddin; but my study differs from those previous
ones, as it is mainly based on some cognitive linguistic theories, and the cognitive elements in the anecdotes that
have a direct impact on the children’s education and instruction. I suppose that children can be raised as future
peacebuildres via the teachings of the anecdotes of both cultures, and also of other cultures. Shortly, we can
regard Hodja Nasreddin as a perfect peacebuilder.
3. A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SEPHARDIC JEWS IN TURKEY AND INFORMATION
The destiny conducted Spanish Jews to the Ottoman Empire in March 1492, as the fall of Granada indicated the
end of the Reconquista, and the Catholic monarchs of Spain, Isabella of Castilla, Ferdinand of Aragon and their
prime minister Torquemada sent them away from Spain, since they refused to be converted into Christianity
(Sarhon, n.d., para. 1).
Until the end of the sixteenth century, Jews emigrated to Istanbul, Safed, Salonica, Jerusalem, and Cairo: the
communities were divided into groups in accordance with their origins, as Cordova, Aragon, Leon etc. (Sarhon,
n.d., para. 3). They took the name SEPHARAD, which means Spain in Hebrew; furthermore, they called
themselves SEPHARDIM (Sepharads) (Sarhon, n.d., para. 3).
The Ottoman Empire was more tolerant toward the Jews than the Christian countries: Jews did not have to build
walls around their villages, or separate themselves from the natives of the country (Sarhon, n.d., para. 5). This
was also valid linguistically: the Iberian Jews who emigrated to North European countries did not continue to
speak Judeo-Spanish, but those who settled in North Africa, and Ottoman Empire continued to speak it; few
additions and some structural readjustments were made to the language (Altabev, 2003, p. 62-63).
“The name "Ladino" is a variant of "Latin". The language is also called Judæo-Spanish, Sefardi, Dzhudezmo,
Judezmo, and Spanyol; Haquitía” (Ladino Language, 2006, section 2, para. 1). “Minorities, such as Greeks,
Italians, and Armenians, and Jews conducted their private and business lives in their own languages in the
Ottoman Empire” (Altabev, 2003, p. 63).
In Turkey, the Jews, coming from Spain, were speaking Spanish, those from Portugal Portuguese, and some also
Greek, as it used to be the language of Byzantines; besides, there were Venetians and Genovans, living in
Turkey: they could speak Italian (Shaul, 1994, p. 12). The words of these languages together with those of
Turkish and Hebrew, the mother tongue of the Jews, entered into the Judeo-Spanish language.
Later l’Alliance Israelite Universelle was founded in Paris in 1860 for protecting the Jews all around the world;
in 1865 it established its first school in Istanbul; by 1912, there were 115 Alliance schools in Turkey (Sephiha,
1977, p. 43); for this reason, we also see some French words in Judeo-Spanish.
Until the last decades, Judeo-Spanish was written in rashi, a script developed from Hebrew characters and used
for printing, and the handwritten cursive script was called soletreo, as told by Bunis (1982) (ctd. in Altabev,
2003, p. 62).
In this research, I chose the Turkish anecdotes of Nasrettin Hoca from a compilation of these anecdotes, entitled
Nasrettin Hoca Fıkraları (Anecdotes of Hodja Nasreddin), published by Çilek Publications in 2003, and the
Judeo-Spanish anecdotes from the book of Eli Shaul, Folklor de los Judios de Turkiya (Folklor of the Jews of
Turkey), published in 1994, and from the book of Matilda Koen-Sarano, entitled Djoha Ke Dize?: Kuentos
Populares Djudeo Espanyoles (What did Djoha say?: Popular Judeo-Spanish Stories), published in 1991.
In this study, I observe these anecdotes by dividing them into three groups:
1) Those to create love between animals and children, without making children imitate them,
2) Those, depicting a perfect human being, and
3) Those based on religious values, tolerance, and respect.
5. AIM OF THIS STUDY
I aim to show that the objects and other cultural concepts used in the anecdotes of Djoha and Nasrettin Hoca,
and impose how one should be a good, tolerant, and kind person to herself / himself, the nature, the animals, and
most importantly, to people who come from a different cultural background from theirs. I intend to demonstrate
that these anecdotes are good for the cognitive and psychological development, education and instruction of
children, as they make children think, by imposing how to be good and tolerant members of the society.
6. ON DJOHA AND HOCA
Nasreddin Hoca was born in 1208 in the village of Hortu village of Sivrihisar, near the city of Afyonkarahisar.
He moved to Aksehir in 1237 in order to study under the guidance of recognized scholars of the time, among
which there were Seyid Mahmud Hayrani and Seyid Haci Ibrahim; he worked as Kadi, a Muslim judge until his
death in 1284 (Sansal, 2005, para. 1).
Hodja Nasreddin, or Hoca - the word ‘hoca’ means teacher and imam in Turkish - is known by people from
different nationalities with different names: Turks call him “Nasrettin” or “Nasreddin Hoca;" Kazakhs, “Koja
Nasreddin;” Greeks, “Hoja Nasreddin;” Azerbaijanis and Iranians, “Molla” or “Mulla Nasreddin;” Arabs, “Juha”
or “Cuha”, and Tajiks, “Mushfiqi” (Sansal, 2005, para. 3), and the Sepharads “Djoha.”
Besides, among one of the Sephardic magazines published in the Ottoman Empire, we encounter this one,
published in 1860: “Coha i Cohayko” (“Djoha and Djohayko”) (Birmizrahi, 2004, para. 4).
7. CONCEPTUAL METAPHOR THEORY (CMT) FOR EXPLAINING THE BEST
INSTRUCTIONAL METHOD FOR CHILDREN
It is important to cite here the cognitive linguistic theory of metaphors on which my study is based. I suggest
that the metaphors are good instructional tools, and children formulate these for understanding the anecdotes of
Djoha and Hoca.
According to this theory, metaphors are principally divided into two major groups: conceptual metaphors and
linguistic metaphors (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, p. 6). The conceptual metaphors are those structural metaphors,
and the linguistic metaphors formed by linguistic expressions are those orientational and ontological metaphors.
The structural or conceptual metaphors define a concept with another one: “One concept is metaphorically
structured in terms of another.” (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, p. 14). Thus, the source, the metaphorical concept
defines the target concept, as in “jealousy is heat.” In this sentence, heat is the source used to depict the target
emotion of jealousy.
On the other hand, orientational metaphors have to do with spatial orientation, and give a concept a spatial
orientation (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, p. 14), as in “a sad person is down”.
Futhermore, “our experiences with physical objects (especially our own bodies) provide the basis for an
extraordinary wide variety of ontological metaphors, that is, ways of viewing events, activities, emotions, ideas,
etc., as entities and substances” (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, p. 25); for instance, in “the cruelty of hunger kills
8. THREE PURPOSES OF THE ANECDOTES OF DJOHA AND HASRETTIN HOCA
As previously explained, Nasreddin Hodja anecdotes that I chose have three purposes: they aim to teach children
to love animals without imitating them, to be good people, and to be peacebuilders.
8.1. Teaching Children to Love Animals without Imitating Them
Animals are the best friends of Djoha and Hoca. Let me call Nasrettin Hoca just Hoca talking about the Turkish
anecdotes, and just Djoha, talking about the Sephardic anecdotes. The first anecdote “Djoha edukator en el
ahir” (“Djoha educator in the stable”) concerns the maternal education given to the child by her / his mother.
Here, “vakita” (little cow) is a structural metaphor, referring to a child. We can depart from the conceptual keys,
formed by the conceptual metaphors, CLIMBING ONTO THE WALL IS DISOBEDIENCE, ROSES ARE
BEAUTY, DESTROYING THE BEAUTY IS NASTINESS and DESTROYING THE GARDEN AND ROSES
IS NASTINESS, and therefore HARMING THE NATURE IS NASTINESS. A child imagines herself / himself
to be in a rose garden, and to destroy everything, but s/he remembers the condition of the little cow.
However, here is another conceptual metaphorical key: EDUCATION IS PUNISHING THE MOTHER. Djoha
catches the mother of the cow, and beats it. The neighbours arrive, and ask why Djoha beats the mother, not the
little cow. At this point, another conceptual metaphorical key makes the children understand the situation here:
TEACHING BAD IS DOING EVIL. The child may form this conceptualization in her / his mind, and s/he will
understand how bad it is to harm the nature. A child loves her / his mother more than everything. The
punishment of the mother will show her / him that it is better not to destroy the nature, as people can blame and
punish her / his mother.
Besides, the behavior of an animal can be a good or a bad example, as animals are people’s friends. A child
would conceptualize this frame, and will never hurt the animals and damage the environment.
(1) ANECDOTE IN JUDEO-SPANISH: Djoha edukador en el ahir
Un dia Djoha vido ke una de sus vakitas saliò a la guerta i le izo la guerta entera d’arriva abasho. Le pizò las
rozas… le destruyò todo!
A lugar de aferrarla, s’entrò derecho al ahir, ande stan las vakas grandes, l’aferrò a la vaka i la empesò a aharvar.
Vinieron los vizinos, le disheron: “La vakita te izo la guerta d’arriva abasho. Ke stas aharvando a la vaka?”
“Esta es la madre!” les disho Djoha, “Esta es ke le ambezò kualo azer a la vakita chika! A esta es ke la v’a
(1) TRANSLATION: Djoha educator in the stable
One day Djoha saw that one of his little cows climbed onto the garden, and ruined all of his garden from the top
to the foot. It crushed his roses... it destroyed everything!
In place of catching it, he entered directly into the stable, in which the old cows were living, he caught the cow,
and began to beat it.
The neighbours came, and told him, “The little cow ruined your garden. Why are you beating the cow?”
“This is the mother!” Djoha told them, “This is who taught the small little cow what to do! This is the one to be
(narrated by Rashel Perera – 1987)
Moreover, hearing or reading the Sephardic anecdote in (2), a child will formulate the following conceptual
metaphorical keys: BEING CLEAN IS USING A SOAP AND WATER, BLACKNESS IS BADNESS, and
BEING DIRTY IS BEING BLACK. As birds are friends of human beings, one can imitate them. The child
understands how it is important to wash the clothes and herself or himself. But s/he perceives how it is bad to
steal the soap of others. S/he understands that by blackness a bad behavior is expressed. But as the bird is black
due to dirt, it is also necessary to be physically clean. Therefore, via her / his imagination, the child understands
that one must be not only physically, but also spiritually clean and tidy.
(2) ANECDOTE IN JUDEO-SPANISH: L’aparensia enganya
La mujer de Djoha stava lavando la ropa al bodre del rio. Ensupitò vino un pasharo, aferrò el shavon i se fue.
La mujer empesò a gritar.
Le dishò Djoha: “No gritis! Deshalo! No stas viendo ke sta preto? El pasharo tiene demenester del shavon
muncho mas de mozotros!”
(2) TRANSLATION: The appearance cheats
The wife of Djoha was washing dirty clothes on the edge of the river. Suddenly, a bird came, caught the soap
and escaped. The wife began to cry out.
Djoha told her: “ Don’t cry out!” Let it go! Don’t you see that it is black? The bird needs the soap more than we
(narrated by Rashel Perera – 1987)
Let us observe another anecdote in (3), which belongs to the Turkish Muslim culture. The child will formulate
same frame as that in (2): there is a thief. Here a kite, again a bird, one of the friends of human beings comes
and takes the meat. The conceptual metaphorical keys BEING DELICIOUS IS BEING COOKED
ACCORDING TO THE RECIPE and EATING WITH “AĞIZ TADI” (JOY OF ONE’S MOUTH) IS EATING
JOYFULLY DUE TO THE GOOD TASTE OF THE FOOD are formulated in the brain of the child. Besides,
via the conceptual metaphorical key STEALING IS UNTASTY FOOD, s/he understands how bad it is stealing,
as the owner of each good knows how to use the good in the best way. The best food is that obtained via one’s
efforts: the child conceives this.
From all of these anecdotes, we understand that although we must love animals, we must not imitate their
behavior, as these act without thinking. We can communicate with them, squeeze them, caress them..., but we
must act after we have thought about the details and consequences of our attitudes and behavior.
(3) ANECDOTE IN TURKISH: Hiç boşuna sevinme
Hoca bir gün ciğer almış. Kasaba;
“Bunu nasıl pişireyim?” diye sormuş. Kasap ciğerin nasıl pişirileciğini bir kağıda yazıp Hoca’nın eline vermiş.
“Bu tarife uyularak pişirilirse ciğer pek lezzetli olur!” demiş.
Hoca, eve doğru giderken nasıl olmuşsa ciğeri bir çaylağa kaptırmış. Çaylak “Gak! Guk!” edip uzaklaşmaya
başlamış. Hoca hiç telaş etmemiş. Elinde tuttuğu tarifnameyi kaldırarak;
“Hiç boşuna sevinme!” demiş, “Tarifnamesi bende! Ağız tadı ile yiyemeyeceksin!”
(3) TRANSLATION: Don’t be happy in vain!
One day Hodja bought livers. He asked to the butcher: “How can I cook these?” The butcher wrote down on a
piece of paper how to cook them. And later he said, “If one cooks these according to this recipe, these will be
While Hodja was going home, it was unknown how it happened, but he permitted a kite to catch the livers. The
kite went away, after saying “Gack! Guck!” Hodja did not panic. Lifting up the recipe in his hand, he said,
“Don’t be happy in vain! I have the recipe! You will not eat eat with a great deal of joy!”
8.2. Teaching Children to Be Good People
In this part, it is taught how to be a good person. Sometimes it is hard to take a child to the ocularist, but what
does Djoha do in (4)? These conceptual metaphorical keys guide the child: HAVING BAD VISUAL
CAPACITIES IS BEING INCAPABLE OF ENTERING THE MILITARY and LYING IS SEEING THE
REALITY, BUT STATING THE UNREALITY, INSTEAD.
A child will understand that lying is bad, and people will understand when one lies through her / his words.
(4) ANECDOTE IN JUDEO-SPANISH: Djoha, El Doktor de Ojos
Djoha no keriya azer askerlik, i diziya ke no ve bueno.
El doktor de la armada, ya entendio ke se esta djugando de el i le demanda: “Dizeme komo es ke no ves!” Djoha
risponde: “Estas viendo este table enferente en la pared?” “Si,” dize el doktor, “i mas kualo ay?” “Na, yo no
veyo el tablo,” responde Djoha.
(4) TRANSLATION: Djoha, the Ocularist
Djoha was unwilling to attend the military, and was saying that he did not see well.
The doctor of the armada, understood that he was playing with him and asked him: “Tell me how you do not
see!” Djoha answers: “Do you see the board hanging on the wall?” “Yes,” says the doctor, “and which other
things are there?” “Yeap, I do not see the board,” answers Djoha.
(from Shaul, Eli: Folklor de los Judios de Turkiya)
Besides, in the Turkish anecdote in (5), we encounter another funny situation. The successive metaphorical
conceptualization makes the child conceive the main theme of the anecdote: CARRYING A TURBAN CLOTH
CAP IS KNOWING ALL. A turban cloth was used in the Ottoman Empire by imams and Muslim teachers. But
reading, or hearing the rest of the anecdote, the child understands that everyone does not know all, and the
clothes they wear do not render them wise and intellectual.
(5) ANECDOTE IN TURKISH: Sen oku da görelim
Adamın biri bir mektupla Hoca’ya gelmiş. Mektubu Hoca’ya uzatmış;
“Hocam,” demiş, “Şunu bir zahmet okuyuver.”
Hoca mektubu almış. Bakmış ki, mektup Farsça. Adama; “Ben bu mektubu okuyamam. Farsça yazılmış bu
“Bir de Hoca olacaksın,” demiş, “başındaki şu koca sarıktan utan, meğer bir mektubu okumaktan acizmişsin!”
Hoca hemen sarığı başından çıkarmış. Adamın başına oturtmuş. Sonra;
“Haydi bakalım,” demiş, “Keramet sarıktaysa sen oku da görelim!”
(5) TRANSLATION: You read it, and we see
A man came to Hodja with a letter. He passed the letter to Hodja:
“Hodja,” said he, “please read that!”
Hodja took the letter. He glanced at it, and he saw that the letter was in Persian. He told to the man: “I cannot
read this letter, this is written in Persian.”
The man got angry.
“You are a hodja,” said he, “get ashamed of the turban cloth cap on your head, in reality, you are incapable of
reading a letter!”
Immediately Hodja took off the turban cloth cap from his head, put it on the head of the man. Later;
“Therefore, you read it, if the turban cloth has this miracle. And we see it,” said he.
In (6) the conceptual metaphorical keys PLAYING THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS IS STEALING,
STEALING IS BEING BAD, CRYING OUT IS BEING ANGRY, and GOING OUT OF THE HOUSE
SCREAMING IS SEEING NOTHING AT THIS HOUSE motivate the children to understand the main theme of
the anecdote. From these metaphors, they understand that it is bad to steal the goods of other people.
(6) ANECDOTE IN JUDEO-SPANISH: Muzika de amanyana
En kaminando en la kaleja, Djoha vido ladrones ke stavan kortando los fierros de las ventanas de una kaza, para
Vino un ijiko, le demandò: “Djoha, kualo stan aziendo estos?”
Le disho Djoha: “Stan tanyendo!”
“Stan tanyendo?!!” disho l’ijiko, “Ama no stan kitando boz!”
“Aaa!” le disho Djoha, “Amanyana vas a sintir la boz de los patrones de kaza, ke van salir kon gritos!”
(6) TRANSLATION: Music of tomorrow
Walking on the street hodja saw thieves, who were cutting the metals of the windows of a house for entering
A little boy came, and asked him: “Djoha, what are they doing?”
Djoha told him, “They are playing the musical instruments.”
“Are they playing the musical instruments?!!” uttered the little boy, “”but they are not creating any voices!”
“Ahh!” said Djoha, “Tomorrow you will hear the voice of the homeowners, who are going to go out screaming!”
(narrated by Rashel Perera – 1987)
8.3. Teaching Children to Be Peacebuilders
Now it is time to analyze how Djoha and Hoca teach why one must respect others, who have different origins
and beliefs, and speak different languages. We see these in (7) and (8).
For understanding the anecdote in (7), a child formulates these metaphors in her / his mind: BEING A TOTAL
HODJA IS BEING A FUNNY AND STUPID PERSON FROM ISTANBUL, DONATING MONEY TO THE
POOR IS GETTING TEN TIMES OF THE DONATED SUM, THE SAVED MONEY IS A HELP DURING
HARD TIMES, THE SAVED MONEY IS HELPFUL IN OLDNESS, and other conceptualizations, such as the
generalization of rabbis, as a rabbi cannot tell lies, the fact that the good Jews go to the synagogue for praying,
and the imagination of some quarters of Istanbul, as the synagogue of Neve Shalom which is in Istanbul.
Besides, Kasım Paşa (Kasim Pasha), Kuledibi and Çık Salı (Chik Sali) are some Jewish quarters of Istanbul.
The child, reading or hearing this anecdote, learns about the places mostly frequented by the Jews, and also some
customs and beliefs of the Jews, including the belief in afterlife: as indicated by the answer of the Jew, the God
lives in Chik Sali, in the Jewish cemetary, and a rabbi gives good advise: the Jews help poor from all religions.
Djoha prefers to give money to good Jews, going to the synagogue, since God can pay him more. But nobody
comes and pays him, and he looks for God. A child, reading, or hearing this anecdote, will understand the words
of rabbis must be interpreted in the right way, thus, spiritually, and one’s spiritual well-being is more important
than her / his material well-being, as everybody passes away, and reaches God. The passage from the streets
with avidity for money to the cemetary implies this. The child will understand that it is important to help others
not excessing some economic limits, and the money earned in this world remains in this world, as everybody
(7) ANECDOTE IN JUDEO-SPANISH: Djoha i el Dio de los Judios
Un dia Djoha – tam Djoha d’Estanbol – se hue al kal noche de alhat.
El haham esta deskorsando: “Todo el ked a al prove uno, el Dio le da sien.”
Djoha disho: “Mijor de este echo yo ande vo a topar? Mi mamà tiene sien liras de oro. Yo vo agora a kaza, las
bozeo i do paràs a los proves, i el Dio me paga a mi dies vezes mas!”
Le dize la madre: “Djoha, ijo del padre, estas pareykas son paras de la vejes… No las gastes ansina!”
“Mamà,” le dize Djoha, “el haham no avla mintiras!” Disho: “El ked a uno, el Dio le paga dies! Tu a mi dame
esta bolsa de oro. Yo la v’a dagidiarla a los proves, i el Dio me va darme a mi dies vezes demazia.”
La madre no saliò abash kon Djoha. Era ijo regalado. Djoha tomò la bolsa del oro. Esta viendo los Buenos
Djudios ke salieron del kal de Neve Shalom, les dio una lira de oro a kada uno. Las paras s’eskaparon i Djoha se
vino a kaza sin soldo.
La madre està yorando: “Ke izites? Estas son paras para la vejes!”
“Mamà,” le disho Djoha, “el haham disho ke en un mes el Dio baruhu’ ya me las va pagar.”
El buen de Djoha està asperando al mes ke va vinir, i el Dio baruhu’ le va pagarle, asigun disho el haham en la
teva noche de alhat. Ya vino kaje kavo de mes, dingunos no ay ke vengan, ke le digan: “Toma estas paras!”
La madre le esta diziendole: “Ke izites?!”
“E,” le dize Djoha, “daynda mos mankan dos dias para kavo de mes…”
Vido: ya vino kavo de mes, las paras daynda no estan viniendo a su lugar.
La bolsa se vaziò, la para se hue! Ke izo? Abashando de Neve Shalom para Kasim Pasha, vido un buen djudio.
“Bak,” le disho, “el Dio ande mora?”
“El Dio mora en Chik Sali.” Le disho el otro.
Djoha tomò kamino. Un tiempo ayà era todo kampos i no avia otomobiles. Ya s’izo areskuro, kere tornar atras,
està viendo ke no va poder. Mirò por aki, mirò por ayi, topò un lugariko, disho: “Pasaré aki la noche.
Demanyana me torno a Kuledibi,” i s’echò debasho de un arvolé.
(7) TRANSLATION: Djoha and the God of Jews
One day Djoha – completely Djoha from Istanbul – went to the synagogue on a Sunday night. The rabbi was
talking: “God will give one hundred to all who give to the poor one.”
Djoha said, “ Where will I find a work better than this? My mom has 100 golden liras. Now I’m going home, I
exchange them with smaller units and give the money to the poor, and God gives me ten times more than this
The mom told him, “ Djoha, son of your father, this money is for the old age... You must not waste it in this
“Mom,” told her Djoha, “the rabbi does not lie! He said: to the one who gives one, God pays him ten times of
this! You give me this sack of gold. I will distribute money to the poor, and God will give me an amount ten
times more than this.”
The mother did not oppose to Djoha. He was a gifted son. Djoha took the sack of gold. Seeing the good Jews,
going out of the synagogue of Neve Shalom, he gave a golden lira to each of them. The money finished, and
Djoha returned home without any money.
The mother was crying: “What did you do? This money was for old age!”
“Mom,” said Djoha, “the rabbi said that within a month the benedicted God will pay them to me.”
The good Djoha was waiting for the following month, and benedicted God was going to pay him, according to
what the rabbi told him near the synagogue where he distributed the money on Sunday night. The end of the
month arrived, and nobody came, and told him, “Take this money!”
The mother was asking him, “What did you do?!”
“Ehh,” told her, Djoha, “from now on, for us two days are lacking to the beginning of the new month...”
He saw: the new month arrived, the money was not coming to its place. The sack emptied itself, the money
escaped! What did he do? Passing down the street of Neve Shalom going to Kasim Pasha, he saw a good Jew.
“Look,” said he, “ Where does God live?”
“God lives in Chik Sali,” he replied.
Djoha began to walk. There were fields, but no cars for a while. It became dark there, he wanted to return back,
seeing that he could not. He observed all around, he found a place, and said, “I will pass the night here.
Tomorrow I will return to Kuledibi.” He lay down under a tree.
(narrated by Matilde Koen-Sarano - 1991)
Additionally, in (8), Hoca appreciates God, observing the nature. At this point, the ontological metaphor WHAT
GOD CREATES IS LOGICAL can be employed. Small fruits grow on the trees, and when they fall down, they
do not hurt anybody. Logically, big fruits and vegetables grow in the fields, and they do not hurt anybody, by
falling on them. The child understands this. The rhymes of “Gak” and “Tak” facilitate child’s conceptualization
of the kite and the walnut.
(8) ANECDOTE IN TURKISH: Tövbe, Ey Yüce Allahım!
Hoca, günün birinde bostana gitmiş. Çalışıp çabalamış, bir hayli de yorulmuş. Biraz dinlenmek istemiş. Gidip
tarlanın kıyısındaki ceviz ağacının altına şöyle bir uzanmış.
O sıra, gözleri ağaçtaki cevizlere takılmış. Bir ağaçtaki küçük cevizlere, bir de tarladaki koca koca bal
kabaklarına bakmış. Başlamış düşünmeye. Küçücük cevizler büyük bir ağacın dallarına, kafasından büyük
kabaklar ise ipincecik bir gövdeye bağlıymış. Sonra kendi kendine söylenmiş; “Hey yeri, göğü yaratan!” demiş.
“Bir şu yerde yatana, bir de şu dalda bitene bak! Gerçi senin işine karışılmaz ama bun e ters iştir. Dağına göre
kış verirsin de, ne diye dalına göre yemiş vermezsin?”
Tam bu sırada bir karga “Gak,” demiş, bir ceviz de gelip Hoca’nın çıplak başına tak diye düşmüş. Hoca neye
uğradığını şaşırmış. Hemen doğrulmuş. Pek öyle korkulacak bir şey yokmuş ama Hoca’nın gözleri çakmak
çakmak olmuş, kıvılcımlar saçmış!
İşte o zaman, Hoca ellerini yukarı açıp;
“Tövbe, ey yüce Allah’ım!” demiş. “Senin hikmetinden sual olunmaz! Bir daha işine karışırsam iki olsun! Ya
benim düşündüğüm gibi şu kabakları ağaçta yaratmış olsaydın, şimdi benim halim nice olurdu?!”
Hoca bir ceviz yemiş, bin şükretmiş yüce Allah’a.
(8) TRANSLATION: I’ll never do that again, my great God!
One day Hodja went to the vegetable field. He worked and worked, and got very tired. He wanted to have a rest
for a while. He lay down under the walnut tree at the edge of the field.
Meanwhile, he saw the walnuts on the tree. He looked at the small walnuts on the tree and the huge pumpkins in
the field. He started thinking. The small walnuts were tied to the branches of a big tree, the pumpkins bigger
than his head to a very thin trunk. Then he uttered:
“Hey, the great Creator of the land and the sky! Look at the one lying on the land, and the other growing on this
branch! In fact, nobody must intervene your work, but what an opposite fact this is! You give winter in
accordance with the mountain, but why don’t you give a fruit in accordance with its branch?”
At this moment a crow said, “Gack!”, and a walnut fell on the naked head of Hodja with a noise of “Tack!”
Hodja got astonished about what had happened to him. Suddenly he stood up. There was nothing to be afraid
of, but the eyes of Hodja became larger and distributed fire.
Thus, this time, lifting up his hands, Hodja said, “I’ll never do that again, my God! One must not question your
intentions! If I interfere your work, punish me twice! If you had created the pumpkins on the trees, as I thought,
now I would be in a terrible condition?!
Hodja ate a walnut, and thanked God.
These anecdotes belonging to both cultures are full of lessons. The children, who read them, can categorize
objects, as they categorize walnuts and pumpkins among the eatable plants, reading, or hearing (8). They
understand why they grow in specific places under certain conditions; so, they respect the nature, God, and other
9. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
The anecdotes of Djoha and Hoca are useful for children, as they teach them how to be clever, alert, tender, kind,
tolerant, and honest members of a globalized world. Reading, or hearing anecdotes and comparing them to those
of other cultures, children learn to respect others, and become friends, despite their differences.
Interpreting Djoha and Hoca anecdotes, children activate certain mechanisms in their brains, as they think and
formulate several conceptual keys. These anecdotes are useful both for their cognitive development and their
Briefly and more concisely, it is good to teach the anecdotes of Hoca and Djoha to all the children, living not
only in Turkey, but also those living in other parts of the world so that they can learn to be perfect individuals,
who are excellent peacebuilders at the same time, as they learn to develop ideas.
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