Monday, October 16, 2006

Unknown Syrian - Part 4: At Last, His Name

The Unknown Syrian is Moussa Abadi (1910 - 1997), native of the Jewish quarter of Damascus.

Helped by his French friend and future wife, Odette Rosenstock, he founded a network in the region of Nice, known as the "réseau Marcel", which saved 527 Jewish children from being deported by the Nazis. The network benefited from the protection and the help given by the Bishop of Nice, Paul Rémond.

There is quite a lot about Moussa Abadi on the Web. Why don't we share that information?

Here are a couple of links:

P.S.: Omar, Patrick and Tsedek found Abadi's identity. Did I forget anyone?


Yazan said...


How did u come across this?

GottfriedStutz said...

Thanks Yazan.

Hahaaa! How did I come across this? A long series of connections leading to the producers of a documentary about the Marcel Network.

Sorry to have kept you waiting, man!

Fares said...


Thank you for revealing the identity at last...I read it yesterday but I am still amazaed by how you kept the suspense going for few months.

Great job talking about this subject.

Salamat and TY for commenting on

GottfriedStutz said...

Thanks a lot Fares. Actually, I don't deserve your compliment about the suspense, simply because I didn't plan it to last that long, but I was too busy to update the information more often.

Yes, I find it interesting to talk about this subject - or should I say "this story and all the subjects to which it is related"?

salaamat, and I'll comment more often on your posts.

Fares said...

Michel kilo is Finally Free

Thanks everyone for your support and your help in trying to release him.
This is a great day for Syria. Congratulations for everyone who is happy for the news.

Sami D. said...

Thanks for bringing to light an important man AND an important community. "Syrian Jews" almost sounds like a contradiction in terms in the age of Zionism, let alone a famous Syrian Jew. That he saved Jewish lives from Nazi barbarians makes him the Schindler of Syria. That's also confusing to outsiders, who are used to the Zionist story of the Mufi of Jerusalem. THe credit for his actions will surely be ascribed more to his Jewishness than his "Syrianness". His Syrianness should be celebrated by Syrians.

Good work Gottfried. We need more of those personalities to enlighten and help dispel some myths.

Rime said...

Hum ... my comment (some 10 days ago) about your long awaited revelation wasn't posted for some reason, as I've just discovered! Let me repeat then how impressive and inspirational this story is, and how pleased I was to have finally discovered this amazing Syrian with his amazing story. I totally second the opinion of Sami D. on this; well said!

Thank you Gottfried for enlightening us on subjects we should all know about! But next time, please don't keep us waiting so long.

Bint El Golan said...

i am actually preparing a dissertation on Arab Jews literature, I haven't found a Syria literary Jew, I have found neumerous recourses on Iraqi, Moroccon and Yemenite Jews.

So if you came across someone who is from Greater Syria, plz let me know!!


GottfriedStutz said...

Rime and Sami D., thank you very much for your comments. The issues of identity, and of belonging to two groups which people think of as against each other (i.e. "Arabs" vs. "Jews" as the simplistic stereotype pushed forth by the media would have it) is not only insteresting but very important.

I think that we cannot fully understand the complexity of a conflict, or simply a social situation, if we don't look at those individual people or groups which defy categorisation. Examples abound from the rather hostile or indifferent attitude of Christians in the Middle-East towards the "liberating" Crusaders, to the imprisonment of Americans of Japanese descent in camps during WWII, to someone like the late Emile Habiby who won awards both as an Israeli and as a Palestinian writer.

Of course, Moussa Abadi not only defied categorisation, but also became an extraordinary example of someone who would risk his own life on a daily basis in order to save the lives of many young people.

Bint el Golan, it does not astonish me much if you haven't found contemprary, non-religious literary works in Arabic by Jewish Syrians, given their small number (compared to Jews from Yemen, for instance) and the fact that they have been leaving the country to different destinations since 1947.

May be you can find something in Hebrew, or something written outside Syria whatever the language, in which case you'll proably need to do some research in New York (a contact would be helpful but I have none.) You could also, if you have a contact, try the "Merkaz 'Olami le-Moreshet Yahadut Aram Tsoba" (World Center for the Heritage of Aleppo Jewry) in Tel Aviv, which publishes books about Jewish Syrians (or "Syrian Jews", depending on the side of the kaleidoscope through which you are looking!)

Moussa Abadi himself wrote several books in French, two of which can be considered as fiction (deeply rooted in reality): "La reine et le calligraphe" and "Shimon-le-Parjure : Mes Juifs de Damas". The latter was published by Odette after Moussa's death.

Fares said...

Down with Assad

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Dear Blogger,

I am the Educational Program Director for Children of Abraham, a non-profit, interfaith organization that was founded to encourage dialogue between Muslim and Jewish youth over the internet.

We run a five-month long, on-line interfaith seminar called the Global Discovery Program (GDP) which uses cutting-edge wiki software and digital photography to facilitate Muslim-Jewish dialogue. We select a total of thirty-four Muslim and Jewish students between the ages of sixteen and nineteen from Tehran, Montreal, Damascus, New York, Dubai, Moscow, Jakarta, Paris, Riyadh, London and Marrakech to create a truly international experience for our participants.

We are asking you to post a link to our website on your popular blog. Our developers have made it very simple to do so, just follow the instructions here:

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As a show of our commitment to equal representation, Children of Abraham receives financial support from a balance of Muslim and Jewish donors.

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GottfriedStutz said...

I just hope that you're not wasting your time, Anonymous.

First, my blog isn't "popular" as you describe it. Not yet :-)

Second, any Palestine-Israel focus group should know, in my opinion, that the primary problem there isn't religion but dispossession. It may help to know about religion, but the Zionist project is not what Judaism is about, and the Palestinians who were expelled from their land were not all Muslims.

Third, any Jewish-Muslim dialogue (and I'm in favour of that providing the objectives are well defined) should involve Christians as well, and preferably people from other religions as well as atheists. The reasons of my focus on the Chrisitians are that part of the Jewish tradition is taught to them as part of theirs, too, and that Christians living in countries where Islam is the religion of the majority have a very interesting experience to share.

I'm keeping your post and the links that it contains but, for the reasons mentioned above, I'm afraid that I won't promote your initiative more actively.

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