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Moroccan Jewish History

Every city we visited had a Mellah. A Mellah is the Jewish quarter. In case you are in doubt, yes Morocco is a Muslim country. But the Jewish faith has existed here for 2000 years.  As it always seems to do, it has had tribulations and survived and prospered.

The Jews in Morocco date back to early Berber tribes and manged to flourish. Things began to change during the inquisition and the Nazis.

The inquisition and the Nazis both lead to a diaspora across the Mediterranean into Morocco. The Jewish population peaked at about 300,000, until 1948 when the state of Israel absorbed most of them.

Their life in Morocco was a mixed bag. They were allowed to trade in some of the most prosperous trades and free to go about their business during the day. At night they were confined, under guard in the Mellahs.

Today there are about 10,000 jews in Morocco, mostly in Fez. In fact, the Mayor of Fez is Jewish. Under the current king of Morocco, whom you might call a progressive, Jewish schools receive state funding. He has issued a royal invitation to Jewish expatraites to return to Morocco, and many have.

jewish cemetary in Fez

The Jewish cemetary in Fez is well maintained. It is located in the Medina, which is a world heritage site and the upkeep for the medina is funded by the U.N. But the upkeep of this cemetary is paid for by American Express!

rabbi graves

There is a special section reserved for Rabbis

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Just a few more of the hundreds of graves in this large cemetary.

OK, so that is short and sweet.  I made this special post to illustrate the openness of the Moroccan people and because each city guide we had made sure we visited the Mellah.

I hope you enjoyed it. Keep the faith. L’Chaim.

Spin the coconut and share this post, toda rabah.

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One Response so far.

  1. Kermit Eck says:

    I was given your name (actually the link to your blog) by a woman at Kensington Travel when I asked if there was a former client that I could get in touch with. You and you wife are obviously very experienced travelers and I very much enjoyed reading about your trip to Morocco. My wife and I are thinking about going there as part of a trip to Spain. Did you use Kensington to help make arrangements for you? How would you rate them? I sounded like you felt quite safe in Morocco, is that true. We are reasonably experienced travelers, but the most exotic so far has been Israel, which is pretty civilized. Anyway, thank you in advance,
    Kermit Eck

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