Baruch Uziel/The Jewish Fishermen of Salonika

Translated from the Hebrew by Sharon Kessler
with Illustrations by Lior ( Schiller) Clop

Translatorís Note
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 here. You can also download it by clicking here.

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