Baruch Uziel, writer, folklorist, lawyer & Knesset member, was my husbandís maternal grandfather.
Family lore has it that he left Salonika (Thessaloniki in modern-day Greece) for Palestine in 1914
at the age of 14; that is, he ran away from home, thus saving the family from the tragic fate of WW II.
I found his essay on the Salonika fishermen in a dusty box of my mother-in-lawís papers after her death
in 2009, amid many such boxes, & so, although brought to light by chance, even chance portends reasons
beyond coincidence. I had long wanted to print a prose chapbook on my tabletop platen press, a mad exercise
whose allure was its difficulty: designing the book, hand-setting the type, & printing it on an antique press
rescued from a Jaffa print shop. The essay appeared in Hebrew in 1960, in Guinzach Saloniki, now a tattered journal
in a long unopened box. Curious about this little-known chapter in Jewish history, I soon discovered that, although
cited on occasion by historians, the essay Ė and the story it tells Ė were as good as lost even to readers of Hebrew;
in English, the slate is nearly blank. The essay is not academic but its author hoped scholars would take up the
questions it raises. Much of it is based on the authorís childhood recollections & on interviews with surviving fishermen,
most of whom were old men even then. Iíve remained true to Uzielís sometimes flowery style. Translation was hindered by
the vagaries of Turkish & Ladino words spelled phonetically in Hebrew as the author saw fit, often with typographical errors,
stumping even the experts I consulted. Most of the linguistic detective work is my own, as are any errors. Wildly variant
spellings of terms and place names were difficult to resolve. I relied, in the end, on common sense & strove for some
modicum of consistency. This essay opens a small window into the forgotten lives of the Salonika fishermen; my foremost
goal was to bring this story to light.
You can see photos of the chapbook here
You can read the pdf version on line
You can also download it by