This fascinating piece by Aidan Chivers in the Jewish Chronicle casts light on the tracing of title deeds of properties in Tunisia so they can be restituted to Jewish owners who have fled the country. It is interesting that Moché Uzan would not have been able to do this painstaking work before the Arab Spring; but the authorities may still place bureaucratic obstacles in his path.
Moché Uzan: property restitution takes more of his spare time
This has taken me years.” the assistant to the Chief Rabbi of Tunisia says, pushing a bundle of documents across his cluttered desk.
“But finally the family has legal ownership of what is rightfully theirs.”
Moché Uzan has just established property rights for a family of Tunisian Jews who abandoned their home when they fled the country in the mid-1960s.
This is his most recent case from a personal project to restore the property of Jews who hurriedly left Tunisia at various difficult times over the last century. Many left with nothing to start their lives again.
A Jewish property successfully reclaimed by Moché Uzan
Alongside his main role as assistant to Rabbi Haim Bittan, this project has been taking up more and more of Mr Uzan’s spare time.
The work can be laborious, painstaking, and sometimes fruitless.
“I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone as a career path,” he smiles wryly. He earns a small fee for his time but only if he successfully manages to prove ownership for the families abroad.
“One case can mean years of effort — with sometimes nothing to show for it at the end.”
But when all his research and evidence-gathering comes to fruition, it can be very rewarding.
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