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Sultan, Léon René

(323 words)

Author(s): Alma Heckman
Léon René Sultan, a French citizen by virtue of the Crémieux Decree of 1870, was born in 1905 in Constantine, Algeria. He became a lawyer there and in 1929 moved his practice to  Casablanca, Morocco.Fluent in Arabic as well as French, Sultan circulated among the city’s Muslims as well as its Jews. Under the French protectorate, communist and socialist gatherings were prohibited, but he wrote articles for Clarté, a communist paper, and helped to distribute it and similar publications. During World War II he was disbarred by the antisemitic Vichy regime, but he b…

Lévy, Simon

(410 words)

Author(s): Alma Heckman
Simon Lévy (1934–2011) was born in Fez into a family steeped in the traditional  Jewish culture of northern Morocco. He began to work for Moroccan independence in his late teens, and in 1954 joined the Moroccan Workers’ Union, the National Moroccan Student Union, and the Moroccan Communist Party. During the student uprising in 1965 he was abducted and tortured for eight days.Lévy remained with the Communist Party when Abraham Serfaty’s far-left faction split off during the ongoing political crisis of the 1960s. In the years that followed, as the party wen…

Lasry, Marc

(379 words)

Author(s): Alma Heckman
Marc Lasry was born in 1961 in Marrakesh, Morocco. Five years later his family emigrated to the United States, settling in Hartford, Connecticut. His father, Moïse, was a computer programmer; his mother, Elise, a teacher. From this modest background, Lasry rose to become a major figure in hedge-fund management and the broader domain of international finance.Lasry graduated from Clark University in 1981 with a B.A. in history,  and three years later, in 1984, was awarded his J.D. from New York Law School. He initially practiced in bankruptcy law, but…

Chetrit, Joseph

(388 words)

Author(s): Alma Heckman
Joseph Chetrit, born in Casablanca sometime in the 1960s, is a real estate magnate who owns some of the highest-profile properties in the United States. He and his family are famously private and reclusive, making it difficult to obtain precise biographical information about them, but they are known to have been active in textiles and shipping in Morocco.In 1990, Joseph Chetrit was cited for violating U.S. customs law, while in the mid-1990s, his father and one of his brothers were arrested for smuggling. The  family turned to real estate, and soon ac…

Attias, Richard

(499 words)

Author(s): Alma Heckman
Named one of the top ten most influential Moroccan Jews in the world by HuffPost Maroc, Richard Attias is an influential figure in the most elite circles of economic development and global finance, as well as French politics.He was born on November 19, 1959 to a Jewish family in Fez, Morocco.  A gifted math student and left Morocco first for high school in Bordeaux, then studied engineering at the National Institute for Applied Sciences in Toulouse, France, followed by an MA in Mathematics and Physics at the University of Paris. Hi…

Toledano, Sidney

(501 words)

Author(s): Alma Heckman
Sidney Toledano’s father, Boris, was born near Tangier and fought in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republicans. Boris was subsequently expelled from France pursuant to Vichy law. Boris had a paper company and worked with the Americans upon their arrival to Casablanca in the Second World War with Operation Torch. It was out of this connection and admiration for Americans that Sidney received his American first name. Sidney Toledano, born July 25 1951, would come to lead the most luxuri…

Tapiero, Charles

(384 words)

Author(s): Alma Heckman
Charles Tapiero was born in the city of Safi on Morocco’s Atlantic coast on August 11, 1943. His father was a scion of a prominent old family from Essaouira (Mogador), related to the Corcos and Abulafia families, who long acted as diplomats and merchants for the sultan.Tapiero’s father died of typhus in 1944, and some years later the family moved to Paris.  Although most of his relatives were secular, Tapiero became religious at the age of twelve and soon after joined his brother Haim in Israel, remaining there until age eighteen. He e…