Although the Jewish population in Morocco has decreased drastically over the past decades, few still embrace Morocco as their home; mostly living in Casablanca. The city has over 30 synagogues, and there are over 5,000 people of Jewish descent living in Casablanca.
Jewish heritage is still thriving with numerous monuments around the city, as well as Kosher restaurants that appease Moroccan-Jews and their laws. The late king has extended a helping hand to the Jewish community in Morocco, ensuring them of peacefulness, co-existence, and harmony. Since that statement, it has been nothing but that.
The Jewish quarter in Casablanca, or Mellah, is relatively new when compared to other Jewish quarters in Morocco. Although, its synagogues can seat for up to 500 worshippers at any given time.
Visiting the Mellah and discovering a huge part of Moroccan history will surely be a plus to your ‘things done’ list
Casablanca the white house
Ibn dannan synagogue
An old and important synagogue, not only in Fes but also in North Africa. A prominent Moroccan-Jewish family owned this synagogue in the mid-17th-century. You’ll find this synagogue in the centre of the Mellah district in Fes.
In the 19th-century, it was renovated and embellished with many accessories that make the passers admire its gates.
The Jewish cemetery holds many stories. Within these cemeteries, you’ll discover memorable stories about righteous people buried in small chambers. All of their stories tell of achievements and importance, with one stand-out; Sulika. The young Jewish woman who received a fatal verdict because she rejected to convert faiths and marry the Sultan.
The cemetery is covered with white arched tombstones with scribes on them. The most recent are usually written in French while the older ones are in Hebrew.
Fes the spiritual
The Arab chieftain Idriss I established Fes in 789 A.D. This noble city carries great importance to Morocco and its people. It may seem that Fes is embodying Morocco’s past and heritage; given that it’s a city from the 9th-century, major changes are taking effect.
The overwhelming demand of people made locals realise an opportunity. In effect, riads and restaurants were established, and given that Moroccans do their due diligence, they’ve also established Jewish restaurants that are kosher friendly.
This spiritual city is about 400 kilometres away from Marrakech. And the UNESCO World Heritage medina is still a success. People, especially foreigners, seem to appreciate Fes’ modern and new side, as opposed to its spiritual and holy side.
Marrakech the magic
Marrakech , is the second oldest imperial city known as the « Pearl of the South »
It is truly the city of entertainment in Morocco. In the center of Marrakech is a square, Djemaa el Fna, which is the operating point for entertainers such as acrobats, drummers, dancers, pipe musicians, comedians and storytellers. There's plenty of choice for meals, including the Djemaa el Fna food stalls, many inexpensive cafe-restaurants and a number of up-market palace-restaurants that offer Morocco's traditional cuisine at its very best
Marrakech el mellah
Passed away 500 hundred years ago, Rabbi Shlomo ben Hensh is the Tzaddik. Although with the lord for a long time, the Tzaddik is still revered by the Jewish community worldwide. El Fassie has devoted his life to guarding a tomb in which the Tzaddik lies.
Jews from all around the world; America, Israel, Germany visit the Tzaddik and his devotee to ask for blessings and spiritual guidance.
Most North African Berbers were Jewish before the Arab conquest. The Ourika region had Jewish schools, Synagogues, they hosted bar mitzvahs, and had rabbis to perform circumcisions. 300 Berber families, 1300 years ago, lived with Jewish belief. To this day, they’re still commemorated and remembered. The Tzaddik and his devoted guardian were both of Berber descent, and they’re still revered to this day.
Meknes The Imperial
The sixth-largest by population in Morocco, and one of its imperial cities. Meknes was founded by the Almoravids as a military settlement. Combining both Islamic and European styles, Meknes is now close to a whopping 1,000,000 in population.
During Moulay Ismail’s reign, Meknes was the capital of Morocco, and it was turned into a wholly different city, thanks to its diversity in architecture and design.
Jews from different ethnicities lived in Meknes. Spanish exiles and other Jews have been living near the mausoleum of Moulay Ismail and at different parts of Meknes. Moulay Ismail introduced us to great monuments and palaces.
Jews were ordered by the Sultan to regroup in a new district that he sold them. At the end of the 19th-century, there were about 260 houses, providing a home to 1152 families.
Although gleeful when it’s sunny, the old Mellah used to get disgusting and stinky when it rained. Mud formed and an unpleasant odour roamed the streets. The new Medina is different - as expected. Between 1926 and 1930, the new Mellah was built. The streets are wider with lesser houses and a better management system.
The old Mellah had 19 synagogues, and the new one has 17. Luxury and lavishness were not on their minds when they built theses synagogues. However, it does not lessen their distinct appeal. The Mellah quarters are still vital parts of Morocco’s culture, and they’re still architecturally breathtaking.
If you picture Marrakech, but smaller, you’ll be picturing Taroudant - a gorgeous city in the Souss valley south of Morocco. Before Marrakech was the capital of Morocco, Taroudant filled the vacant spot for a brief time. Taroudant’s fame comes from its local talent and crafts, as well as signature carpets and gorgeous jewellery. When heading to Ouarzazate, locate a city that’s situated east of Agadir, and enjoy a couple of hearty hours roaming Taroudan’ts heritage.
Near Taroudant, you’ll find a small village, called Arazan. In the early 80s, it was rediscovered and taken care of by a Berber citizen who had kept the keys for tens of years. The synagogue’s interior is carved in Hebrew inscriptions and ancient scrolls that come from the Torah.
The stories are yet to be discovered, and it’s up to every proud Jewish, Moroccan, and history buff to unfold the mysteries.