Au niveau pédagogique, il a obtenu le poste de conseiller pédagogique de la maîtrise pour le multiculturalisme. Depuis , il enseigne dans différents conservatoires andalous, en tant que professeur permanent. Dans le domaine de la gestion culturelle et artistique, il a récemment reçu le prix Latin Grammy nomination en tant que producteur. Cette tournée se résulta dans une série de plus de concerts visant à faire revivre la culture de salon dans différents lieux non- traditionnels. Gallagher sillonna les 7 continents, 30 pays, et se produisit sur différentes scènes prestigieuses et lieux intimes à travers le monde, du Centre Kennedy à Washington DC à Kaboul, de Bombay à Boulder, Chicago à Shanghai, et de la Toscane à la Tunisie.
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His place of birth is still being researched by myself, as I have conflicting information from my father Albert deceased , and my aunt Alice also deceased. He was named Yaakov Jacob. I know very little of his background and have a very sketchy knowledge of his early life.
I believe his immediate family was a victim of the pogroms that were raging in Russia in those days, that his father Beer could have been a "shohet " Jewish ritual butcher , his mother's name was Lea. He had many older siblings I recall that one of his sisters was called Marimitte and lived in Rumania , and that he was orphaned when he was 5 years old.
His brothers and sisters could have emigrated to Rumania, although I believe that there is a connection to the town of Koslov in Russia, as they changed their surname from Süssmann to Koslover. We, somehow find his new family in Constantinople now Istanbul, Turkey , where my grandfather grew up to the age of The young Giacomo had heard that Egypt which was then part of the Ottoman empire had become a beehive of activity, as the Suez Canal was being built by the French.
Trade, professional and business people started to arrive from all parts of Europe and the Middle East, in order to take advantage of the economic explosion and the opportunities deriving from it. Egypt was now at the crossroads of the spice and silk trade. Before the canal was built, ships had to round the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa in order to get to India and the Far East, a trip that wasted weeks. My grandfather also knew that ophthalmic disease was rife in Egypt and that a large proportion of the native population needed eyesight correction.
He set up business in the streets of Cairo, by displaying his wares on a wooden tray strapped to his neck with a leather strap. Lady Luck smiled on the budding tycoon who very soon made a substantial profit, and having run out of stock, returned to Italy to replenish it. He shuttled back and forth a few times between the two countries, and by had accumulated sufficient funds to open up his first shop.
Cairo, Alexandria, Port-Saïd, and to a lesser extent, some other smaller cities in Egypt were a melting pot of ethnic groups. These began to dominate the commercial and professional life of that country, so much so that those cities began to acquire a European look in particular: French. The canal was completed and inaugurated in Ibrahim Pasha even commissioned Verdi to compose an opera Aïda , and had the Cairo Opera House, specially built to coincide with the occasion.
The European influx was accelerated. More and more Europeans and others , flocked to Egypt, attracted as they were by the economic boom French being the official international language of the time, it was adopted by all the expatriates as the lingua franca of everyday communication.
However, they spoke mostly the language of their respective origins with their families, and compatriots. My grandfather was very much at home in this "Tower of Babel", as he spoke no less than thirteen languages.
This may seem extraordinary for the average person, and it is indeed quite an achievement, but one must not forget, that there are some people in Turkey who can speak seventeen, eighteen and even twenty-three languages. This diversity of nationalities required the establishment of a special judicial system, in order to administer the workings of this particular society with a modicum of impartiality. Foreign nationals were protected by law under the system named "capitulations", under which they were subject to the laws of their country of origin, and their disputes or grievances, arbitrated by those Courts of Law.
We now must remember that most foreigners in Egypt, who arrived prior to World War I, came with no passports, as they were not needed at that stage for moving from country to country.
It became evident very quickly, that in order to take advantage of the "capitulations" system, one had to establish a foreign identity. Everyone flocked to consulates or embassies for whom this was a wonderful new source of income , in order to acquire passports. My grandfather did what everyone else was doing, and applied first to the Russian consulate, and when he found the cost too high, started shopping around for the cheapest passport.
He found that Greece was giving them away for L. A bargain! The Russian Jew was now Greek, and all his descendants with him. Business was booming for the young optometrist, and he decided to get married. I have no details of the date of the wedding, but his bride's name was Anna Goldstein. She gave him four children: Rachel, David, Simon and Ida, before dying in and leaving him a widower.
By that time my grandfather's business had been expanding rapidly, and he had added jewellery and watchmaking to his thriving business. He was appointed sole purveyor of jewellery, watches and optometry to the Khedive Vice-Roy , and was often invited to play backgammon tric-trac with the latter. He had 3 outlets in Cairo, and was employing goldsmiths and silversmiths in his workshops, as well as qualified watchmakers. He travelled frequently to Europe on buying trips, and in particular to Switzerland, where he obtained the exclusive agencies for "International Watch Company"-Schaffhausen, "Omega", "Movado", "Tavannes" and "Longines" watches.
He also imported "grandfather", and "grand-mother" wall clocks, and "Cuckoo" clocks from the "Schwartzwald" Black Forest, in Germany. I was always in awe at the wonderfully hand carved "Hunters" clocks, hanging on the walls of my father's shop. In or , on one of his trips to Vienna, my grandfather met the lady who was to become his second wife. It was love at first sight. Her name was Emma Bloch, born on the 4th of August to a very well to-do Viennese family.
She was 26 or 27, and 12 years his junior. She was destined to become my grandmother. They married on the 25th March , and one year later on the 19th January my father: Albert was born. I have always mourned the fact that I have never known my grandfather, as he died 4 years before I was born. He was from stories told me by my father and others , a man larger than life, a self-made man, strong as an ox, an inspiration to all his descendants.
He had a very strong sense of "family". All meals had to be attended by all members of his family his wife, himself and all of his eleven children , and all had to be on time.
An autocrat, he would not allow anyone including himself or my grandmother to start partaking of the meal, until all were properly seated and suitably attired. Conversation was not allowed at the table, unless permission to speak was first granted by him with the exception of his wife. He was a patriarch who was well liked and respected by all who came in contact with him. He became President of the Ashkenazi Jewish Community.
When the children of his first marriage were old enough, he put his two sons: David and Simon, in charge of the family business, and decided to take an extended vacation in Europe with his younger family It turned out to be a mistake. The boys started living it up, and neglected remitting sufficient funds to support my grandfather and his dependants.
There remained only one thing to do: Return to Cairo. The boys did not like losing the reins of the business, and a bitter legal battle ensued. It was eventually settled by dividing the business, but the rift was permanent. My grandfather took my father who was then 16 , into the principal outlet, and groomed him to take over when the time came. My father learned the trade very well, as he had the best teacher for that purpose.
He became an assessor of jewellery, a gemmologist, and the best designer of jewellery I have ever seen. Giacomo Süssmann died, aged 74 on the 8th March , as a result of complications following a prostate operation. He was buried in the family vault in the Jewish cemetery at Bassatine old Cairo. He was survived by his wife Emma and his eleven children.
Although I have never met him, I feel I know him well, and he is ever present in my thoughts.
Sami yusuf سامي يوسف
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