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Uziel, Baruch

UZIEL, BARUCH

UZIEL, BARUCH (1900–1977), educator, lawyer, folklorist, and politician. Born and educated in Salonika, Uziel helped to found the youth organization "Maḥzikei Ivrit" whose goal was to spread the Hebrew language in the spirit of the *Haskalah. In his home, he published the first Hebrew newspaper in Salonika, Ha-Teḥiyyah. Sent to Palestine in 1913 to study teaching, he was caught there by World War i and as a Greek citizen was exiled in 1917 to Syria by the Turkish authorities. After the British conquered Palestine, he returned to continue his studies and remained in the country. He was among the organizers of the Sephardi faction in the *Va'ad Le'ummi. He taught in various places and also graduated in law and became involved in politics.

Uziel always maintained a close connection with Salonika and in the 1920s, helped the aliyah of Salonikan fishermen to Acre and later organized the immigration of Salonikan stevedores to Haifa port. He also helped to lay the foundations for research into Sephardi folklore, in particular from Salonika. He wrote stories about Judeo-Spanish life in Salonika, eventually published in Be-sha'arei Saloniki, Novelot (1973).

He initiated the founding of the "Haifa-Saloniki" committee, which eventually received the name Va'adat ha-Yam ("the sea committee"). This committee together with the Va'ad le-ma'an Haifa ("the committee for Haifa") organized and brought 300 Jewish Salonikan seamen and their families to Haifa. As secretary of Va'ad ha-Yam he coordinated their immigration and absorption and served as a liaison between the committee and the relevant bodies in Greece and Ereẓ Israel.

In 1931 he was elected a member of the executive of Maccabi in Palestine and was in charge of the department of culture and propaganda. He served as president of the Association of Greek Immigrants and after World War ii went to Greece in order to release property confiscated by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

In 1959 he wrote Berit ha-Periferiyyah-Haẓa'ah le-Mediniyyut Yisraelit proposing non-Arabic people of the Middle East ally with Israel to curb Arab imperialism.

Active in the General Zionist party, he was elected to the Fifth Knesset in 1961 and was head of the Knesset Education Committee. He was re-elected to the Sixth Knesset.

Uziel was the chief editor of Guinzaḥ Saloniki (1961) and edited the Salonika commemorative memorial book Saloniki lr va-Em be-Yisrael (1967).

[Yitzhak Kerem]

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