Imazighen/Berbers And Jews: Millenary Coexistence In Moroccan City Of Tiznit And Its Countryside – Analysis



Tiznit was founded in 1882, during the reign of Moulay Hassan I (1873-1894), as part of an expedition launched by the central power to obtain the subjugation of the Souss and the neighboring regions of the Anti-Atlas. It immediately became a center of trade with the West as products from the region flowed in. In 1912, the pretender al-Hiba (1) declared himself sultan, (2) and managed to mobilize many Mauritanian “blue men” like himself to his cause. (3) He also wore their clothes, which earned him the nickname of the “Blue Sultan”. (4)

Since then, like many localities in the hinterland, the village of Tiznit has become a bastion against foreign colonialism, thanks to the construction of a wall surrounding the old town. It is 7 kilometers long and has 9 gates and 36 towers. These gates are dominated by the character of the Amazigh architecture of southern Morocco. There is also a remarkable similarity between them and the gates of the city of Essaouira. (5)

The name of Tiznit was not mentioned in medieval sources or in travel books, even al-Hassan al-Wazzan (Leo Africanus) (6) did not mention it in his description of the towns and villages of the Souss region, which means that it did not exist at that time. However, the plain of Azgar was never empty, the region witnessed the increase of ancient human emigrations because its lands were suitable for grazing, agriculture, and watering holes.

The creation of Tiznit was based on a legend in which a woman of great beauty repented of her sins. As a sign of forgiveness, God placed a spring at her feet, known today as ‘Ain Zarga “Blue Spring” which can be visited to refresh oneself. (7) 

Tiznit is a quiet and beautiful city and is one of the Amazigh cities, located in southern Morocco at 92 km from Agadir. The city is known today for its mild climate and is pleasant to live in, but it is also known for its gold and silver industry, with more than a hundred silver pieces of jewelry. As for the interior of the city, this area was divided into neighborhoods that bear the names of the great families of origin, namely Id Doukfa, Ait Mohammad, Id Zakri and Id Salha. The houses were built according to the Amazigh architectural style of southern Morocco impregnated with the Moroccan-Andalusian style, known as Riad. (8)  In Tiznit, there is also a palace for the Sultan’s representative, known as Al-Khalifi Palace, as well as a large square known as al-Mechouar Square, where official ceremonies were held. (9)

The Jews of Tiznit are an Amazigh Jewish community that has lived in the Tiznit region for centuries. Before the arrival of the French in Morocco in 1912, the city of Tiznit was an important center for Jews, and its Jewish population was estimated at around 2000. Tiznit has been known throughout history for the coexistence and tolerance between its Muslim and Jewish populations. As a reminder, Tiznit includes a cemetery and a Jewish synagogue, in addition to the mellah (Jewish quarter), which was inhabited by Jews before 1960. (10)

Tiznit was famous for its silver jewelry makers (notably the fibula ( (11)Tisghnas  ⵜⵉⵙⵖⵏⵙⵜ or ⵜⴰⵥⵕⵥⵉⵜ, Taẓṛẓit, in Amazigh)), but Jewish craftsmen left Morocco for Palestine in the 1960s, when the State of Israel was created. The Jews were the masters of the goldsmiths of the city of Tiznit, because they were the first to discover the Anzi silver mine, in the region, and extract the metal from it, then they began to work it, and after that Moroccan Muslims have become apprentices to them. Today, Tiznit has become the Moroccan capital of goldsmithing, par excellence.

Local silversmiths, both Muslim and Jewish, excelled in creating jewelry that conveyed creative aesthetic values, whether in terms of using a unique and distinct type of silver metal, or in terms of using different methods and techniques. in the manufacture of jewelry, such as the so-called “Felicram (filigree)” technique, the glaze technique, and the engraving technique, which are widely used. In the region there is also the technique of “piercing”, in addition to other techniques such as the use of dark matter Nial and the technique called Frig, all of which are techniques whose styles, shapes and designs are inspired by the local Amazigh heritage, and which also evoke artistic elements and multi-affluent cultural symbols. (12)

It should be noted that Morocco has a traditional artisanal heritage with international influence, characterized by its diversity, its richness and its originality, because traditional craftsmanship through the ages has been the privileged domain to crystallize and embody the know-how and the creativity of traditional Moroccan craftsmen who excelled in the techniques of engraving, sculpture and decoration, drawing their creativity from nature and from the various geometric shapes of Morocco’s tangible cultural heritage. 

On this particular point, Lyn Sheppard writes: (13)

‘’Berbers traditionally wore silver and still do today although gold has become increasingly popular, especially in urban areas, due to its higher value. This probably was due to its availability: Morocco is a top 20 global silver producer and mines have been in use in the Souss-Massa- Draa region since the 1st century AD. Due to this resource, the town of Tiznit has grown as a major center of silver production and sales. The arrival of Islam in Morocco in the 7th century added a religious justification to the preference for silver, as certain texts of the Quran forbid the wearing of gold jewelry.’’

Jewish community

The Jewish presence in Morocco is characterized by antiquity, and a number of studies suggest that their arrival came in the aftermath of the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BC. After that, migrations followed, and the strongest of these was what happened after the appearance of signs of exile, deportation and expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Andalusia in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497 following the Reconquista. (14) Estimates indicate that the Jewish community in Morocco at this time exceeded 100,000, while around 25,000 to 30,000 came from Spain and Portugal, and many of them still bear surnames from Spanish towns from which they are native. (15) As for their number, it was estimated in the year 1806 at about 100,000 people, (16)  and in the cities that became municipalities, according to the official census of 1936, they reached about 118,734 people. (17)

The Jews enjoyed privileges thanks to the Dahir (royal decree) of February 5, 1864 AD / 1280 AH, (18) during the reign of Sultan Mohammed ben Abd al-Rahman (1859-1873), concerning their freedom. The text of the said Dahir reads as follows: (19)

“In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, and there is neither might nor power except with God, the Most High, the Mighty. God Almighty set up the balance of truth and equality between them and others in rulings, so that none of them will suffer the weight of an atom of injustice or coexistence, and they will not be harmed or slandered, and that neither they nor others transgress against any of them, neither in themselves nor in their wealth, and that they do not use the people of The free of them except with their own kindness and on the condition that they pay them what they deserve for their work, because injustice will be darkness on the Day of Resurrection, and we do not agree with it, neither in their right nor in the right of others, and we do not accept it, because all people with us are equal in the right, and whoever wronged one of them or transgressed against him We will punish him by God’s will, and this matter that we decided, clarified, and made clear was established and well-known, but we added to this scripture an affirmation and a threat against those who want to wrong them, and in order to increase the security of the Jews to their security, and whoever wants to transgress them out of fear to fear Hmm, it was issued by our command proud of God in The twenty-sixth of the blessed Sha’ban in the year two hundred and eighty.’’

Moroccan Jews are divided into two groups: the Megorashim (which means expelled in Hebrew), and these are the Jews of Andalusia, and the Toshavim, who are the original Jews who inhabited Morocco before Jesus Christ, and as their name indicates, they claim that they are of Levantine origin, and that they came after the looting of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BC. BC, as well as the destruction of their temple in Palestine in the year 70. They were received warmly and with great hospitality in Morocco in the country of the Imazighen / Berbers: Tamzgha. (20) Over time, they became Amazigh and, in turn, they introduced the native inhabitants to the Jewish religion. (21)

In this regard, Siham Lasri, a researcher at Mohammed V University in Rabat, wrote the following: (22)

 ‘’Three Jewish social currents coexisted in Morocco. The first is the Arab-speaking Jewish sects, which often include the descendants of immigrants from Andalusia before the mass expulsion in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in addition to the local Jews. The second is the Amazigh-speaking Jews who settled in the southern regions in the high Atlas Mountains and the Souss region, to the extent that they share with the Muslim population the same popular heritage. In this regard, most studies confirmed that the Jews residing in areas such as “Tinghir, the districts of Tiznit, Ouarzazate, Dimnat, and the Middle Atlas…” used to speak the Amazigh-Arabic dialect, and few of them knew only Amazigh; And the third is a group of Spanish-speaking Jews, who are the group of immigrants from Andalusia (Megorashim), who settled definitively in northern Morocco and the coastal lands, so they kept the ancient Castilian language for communication. And not only in Morocco.’’

The Jewish community of Tiznit was made up of families who had settled in the region for several generations. It was considered a peaceful and prosperous community living in harmony with the local Muslim population. (23) The Jews of Tiznit participated in many aspects of the city’s economic and social life. They were craftsmen, merchants, farmers, and landowners. Jewish women were also known for their skill in weaving traditional Berber rugs. After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, many Jews from Tiznit immigrated to Israel or France, despite this, the heritage of the Jewish community of Tiznit is still present in the city. Old Jewish synagogues and cemeteries can still be seen, and many Tiznit residents fondly remember the friendly, good-neighbourliness they had with the Jews of their city. (24)

Jewish School of Tiznit
Jewish School of Tiznit

The traditions, spirituality and social and religious practices of the Jews of Tiznit were closely linked to their social and cultural environment, as well as to their Jewish religion. Here are some of the most important characteristics of their culture:

Language and Music: The Jews of Tiznit spoke an Amazigh language called Tashelhit, as well as Hebrew and Arabic. They had their own style of music, with instruments like the ‘oud and the tar (drum).

Cuisine: The cuisine of the Jews of Tiznit was influenced by Moroccan Amazigh cuisine. Traditional dishes included couscous, tagines, meat skewers and sweet pastries.

Weddings: Marriage was an important occasion for the Jews of Tiznit. It was celebrated with music, dancing and traditional dishes. Marriage was often arranged by the parents, but the tradition of personal spouse selection was also present.

Religious Practices: The Jews of Tiznit were a religious community that practiced their spirituality based on Judaism. They celebrated Jewish holidays, such as Easter, Maimonides and Yom Kippur, as well as the customs of their community.

Community life: The Jews of Tiznit were closely linked as a community. They had their own synagogues, schools, and cemeteries, as well as charities to help those in need.

In addition, the southern and southeastern region where Tiznit is located has known the presence of Jews since antiquity, more precisely in the year 586 BC. Over time, these people became Amazigh and, thus, an indisputable part of the local demography (25), and, consequently, were called “Lihoud l-beldiyyine (Jews of the country)” by the public. In this regard, the electronic newspaper Tiznit wrote the following: (26)

”The oldest known document on the settlement of Jews in Morocco was found in Ifrane in the Souss region of the Anti-Atlas Mountains, and it is a tombstone of the Jew “Youssef Ben Maimon”. According to Zafrani, the Amazigh Jews spread between the Atlas, Souss, and the desert borders, and their main language is Amazigh, and it is known for this group that its oral and literary heritage is rich, and besides the Amazigh Jews, there is a sect descending from the “Megorashim” and it is Spanish-speaking, and they are found in Tetouan, Asilah, Chefchaouen, and Melilla. The Arab Jews are descendants of immigrants from Andalusia and Portugal, and their entry into the region of Tahala in Tafraout goes back to a very ancient time, and although this history is surrounded by a certain ambiguity and differs greatly from what the few scholars interested in the history of the region have indicated, they have agreed that Jews came to the Tahala region from all parts of the world many centuries before the birth of Christ. The Amazigh, the indigenous inhabitants of the region, grouped them in a residential complex called Mellah, still standing until now. Their commercial failure in the face of strong competition from foreign products arriving on Moroccan markets at the time from Western countries, as well as the temptations offered to them to immigrate to Israel to start a new life, made them leave.’’

According to Mohamed Tahiri, (27) in the Amazigh village of Tahala, in the south of Morocco, there are traces of Jews who lived in the region more than 1800 years ago, and its cemetery bears witness to the ancestors who perished in the country, while its houses have become rubble of dust after its inhabitants have abandoned it to settle in the Negev desert in Israel. Tahala is one of six Berber villages in the Tafraoute region that were inhabited by Jews, who have all gone and are still visited by them and their children, even if they no longer know any of its inhabitants. (28)

The Jewish education system in Tiznit

The traditional Jewish education practiced in Tiznit refers to all the knowledge, beliefs, practices, and values that have been transmitted from generation to generation within the Jewish community. It includes the study of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh כתובים – נביאים – תּוֹרָה), the Talmud and other sacred texts, as well as the customs and rituals of Jewish life.

At the heart of Jewish teaching is the belief in one God, who created the universe and gave the Jewish people the Torah as a guide to lead a righteous life. The Torah contains the fundamental accounts of Judaism, including the creation of the world, the patriarchs and matriarchs, the exodus from Egypt, and the reception of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.

The Talmud, which is a collection of rabbinical discussions and debates on Jewish law and ethics, is also an essential part of traditional Jewish teaching. It provides guidance on everything from dietary laws to prayer to social justice issues, and it is studied and interpreted by rabbis and scholars to this day.

Besides these texts, traditional Jewish teaching in Tiznit also emphasized the importance of community, charity, and acts of kindness (tzedakah צדקה), as well as observance of festivals and rituals that link Jews to their history and heritage.

Overall, traditional Jewish teaching in Tiznit was a rich and complex body of knowledge that sustained the Jewish people for thousands of years, providing guidance and inspiration to generations of believers.

However, the Jewish education system in Tiznit has experienced traditional and modern forms of education with the schools of the Alliance Israélite Universelle -AIU-, (29) as well as teaching methods that have changed the educational system. The relationship to tradition and its place in the register of Jewish knowledge.

Traditional education was the prerogative of men, although women had access to the reading of prayers. The traditional educational system emphasizes the transmission of Jewish heritage within the restricted and extended family, with primary learning taking place by imitation of parents, (30) and participation in the activities of the synagogue which also served as a school. Often the school, with limited means, was attached to the synagogue and there were few school materials: drawing boards, Bibles, sheets of parchment, and reeds.

Teachers are paid by parents or the community, who have no administrative or pedagogical control over them. The school usually brings together children of different ages, who enter school (sla) generally between 3 and 6 years old. The acquisition of reading in Hebrew is privileged, as well as cantillation, the memorization of sacred texts and their interpretation from translations into local languages (Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Berber, and Judeo-Spanish). (31) Learning to write comes later with the use of Andalusian calligraphy for secular texts and Rashi calligraphy for sacred texts and literary documents.

To ensure discipline, the teacher, to whom the child owes respect, may resort to corporal punishment, the severity of which depends on the fault:

Tachmila: Blows of the wand on the soles of the feet;

Falaqa: the ankles are squeezed and 39 lashes are inflicted; and

Karma: a piece of wood interferes with the ankles of a student to punish him for skipping school.

Students complete their learning at school after their bar mitzvah (32) בר מצווה.  Those who wish to further their training and obtain the status of talmid-hakham (33) (Hebrew: תלמיד חכם “Disciple of the Sage”) or scholars must attend ישיבה yeshivas founded by individuals or by the community.

The professor, an esteemed rabbi, is better paid than the master. He can combine the functions of preacher, paytan (cantor), scribe, and ritual slaughterer.

The relationship between the teacher and his students is one of respect.

The curriculum includes, on the one hand, the explanation of the Law (din) that underlies the practice of mitzvot and, on the other hand, the development of intellectual skills through the discussion of Talmudic texts (pilpul פלפול  (sharp debate) (34)) and their commentators or legal codes like Choulhan Aroukh by Yossef Caro. The choice of Talmudic treatises depends on the teachers. The piyoutim are also taught in brotherhoods by recognized masters.

Obtaining the status of rabbi results from the pupil’s ordination by the master (35) (semikhah סמיכה לרבנות) : the latter places his hands on his pupil’s head and blesses him.

Students are also trained in the laws and practices of ritual slaughter. Studies continue in a more informal way during sermons, visits by rabbis or night study of the Torah, the Zohar and the ethical writings (mousar מוּסַר הַשְֹכֵּל).

Traditional education was overturned by the schools of the Alliance Israélite Universelle -AIU-, the first of which opened in 1862 in Tetouan. They introduced boys and girls to Jewish and secular subjects, neglected by traditional education, and allowed them to learn new trades.

Jewish family
Jewish family

Stemming from the philosophy of the Enlightenment, which considers education as the main means of emancipation, the AIU often found itself in opposition to the local Jewish authorities. Assuming the same discourse as the French colonizer, it contributed to loosening the ties that existed between Jews and Muslims. Thus, several Jewish communities opposed the creation of AIU schools.

On Jewish education in Morocco, Ahmed Soualem wrote: (36)

 ‘’As for special education for the young, it is provided by each of the “Asl” or “Al-Hadar”, “Talmud Torah” or “Midrashim”. With regard to al-Hadr, it is similar to our Qur’anic schools, which is a Hebrew word meaning room, and it is an institution for teaching Jewish children the foundations and teachings of the Jewish religion, and it was considered the most important feature of Jewish education. And it was found in every temple or church, and as for the places that were devoid of it, the school was attached to one of the Jewish houses. Its task is not to prepare the young for life, but rather to teach them how to perform worship in the best way, and to abide by the commands and prohibitions. However, this type of institution suffers from many problems, such as chaos and overcrowding, which were inseparable characteristics of age, which confuses the progress of the study in it, in addition to the absence of a clear educational policy that specifies the ages of those enrolled in it, who range between three and thirteen years of age, and the majority of them are males. It does not meet the basic conditions for successful learning, as children sit on mats, and study takes place without interruption, in addition to the absence of rest periods, and the majority of this education is oral, focusing on repetition and memory. Al-Hadr witnessed an unprecedented turnout, due to the desire of the Jews to educate their children and deepen their religious culture. What contributed to the perpetuation of this kind of education was the financial donations received from the wealthy of the Jewish community.’’

Old Jewish quarter

The establishment of the first mellah in Morocco dates back to 1438, when the Jews of Fez, accused of having desecrated a mosque, were forced to settle in a new neighborhood near a salt mine, a place called the ”mellah”. (37) This mine was near the sultan’s palace, and it was a quarter that provided them with permanent security thanks to the constant presence of the palace guards. Another explanation of the origin of the word “mellah” comes from an activity dedicated to some Moroccan Jews, by which they put severed heads of rebels to central power in salt to be able to preserve them as long as possible and expose them to the public. This activity reached its peak during the time of the sultan Moulay Ismail (1645-1727).

Far from being a strictly Jewish quarter for residence only, the mellah was very lively, its alleys were commercial and brought together a few trades which over time have become a specialty of this community. The dwellings were cramped and systematically housed a shop on the ground floor with large porches on the upper floors open to the outside. (38)

Unlike the mellah of Essaouira, the old Jewish quarter of Tiznit was well maintained. It is a place with a strange and tempting walk to get lost in its alleys which most of the time end in a “dead end”. (39)

On the issue of Jewish housing in Souss, the Moroccan scholar Siham Lasri wrote the following: (40)

“As for the Souss region, it was known, in turn, to have had a large Jewish presence long ago, and they settled in villages spread across the Anti-Atlas mountain range, especially in the countryside. As for the large cities of Souss, only a small percentage of Jewish population was known in them (Agadir, Tiznit, and Taroudant), unlike the Souss valley which was inhabited by Jews until the end of the 19th century, and of which we quote, by example, the most important settlement areas: Ifrane, Tazourwalt, Tafraoute, Tarsouat, Oued Noun, Assaka Oblag, Hashtouka, Ait Baha, Ait Mazal… and many other remote areas.

It is strange that this region, which had Jews among its inhabitants, dispersed throughout history, and lived with Muslim groups, and even converted for the most part to Islam, and that the role of the Jews in these villages were limited to itinerant merchants and owners of small economic activities, and in the middle of the 19th century the Makhzen encouraged Jews to migrate to Essaouira, in particular which would negatively affect the course of the economy in this region, because the Jews have an important role to play in it.

Among the well-known mellahs of the Souss region at the time, although most of them are now considered vanished monuments, and the remains of villages that were intended for Jewish habitation: such as the mellah from Asaka or Blagh to the east of Tiznit, the mellah of Tamaleh in Ait Ilokan, the region of Hashtouka, the mellah of Iligh… Some researchers have mentioned that the Jews in Morocco, and since the Middle Ages, settled in more southern regions, such as Haha, Souss, Draa, Sijilmasa, and Tata… ”

The religion of the Jews of Tiznit

Tiznit was historically home to a Jewish community, this community was renowned for its practice of Judaism, and its religious customs and practices were similar to those of other Jewish communities in Morocco.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Jewish community of Tiznit numbered around 1,000 people. However, after Morocco gained independence from France in 1956, many Jews emigrated to Israel, Europe, and North America.

The Jewish community of Tiznit was known for its attachment to traditional Judaism and celebrated Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. They also followed dietary laws, such as kosher כשר, and practiced circumcision as a religious ritual.

The Jews of Tiznit were known for their tight-knit community and adherence to traditional Jewish customs and practices. They lived side by side with the Muslim population of Tiznit and there was generally an exemplary peaceful coexistence between the two communities.

Today, the Jewish community of Tiznit no longer exists because it relocated to Israel in the sixties of the last century. However, the history and traditions of the Jewish community of Tiznit remain an important part of Morocco’s Jewish cultural heritage.

Regarding the ancient Jewish rituals in Tiznit, the latter celebrated, according to Jouahri Hind, each year the carnival “Ima’shâr” to revive the cohabitation between Jews and Muslims: (41)

“Ima’shar is a custom that is celebrated every year on the tenth of Muharram of the lunar calendar in most regions of southern Morocco, the city of Tiznit, Ifran of the Anti-Atlas, the Aklou region, and other regions of the Souss geographical area.

The phenomenon of Ima’shar as a whole is about tolerance and coexistence in its best expression by imitating the Jews in all aspects of their religious and ideological life, and social, spiritual, and other aspects. It is similar to celebrations of Ancient Greece.

The phenomenon of Ima’shar in its reality is deliberate improvisational theater, which exposes hidden reality and the sources of corruption through personalities who assume different roles under Jewish names such as Al-Hazzan, Samiha, Moshi, and others.

Mysterious personalities hide behind masks and scruffy clothes, and their concealment is increased by changing the tone of their voice so as not to be revealed as they say what no one can say without a mask.

The phenomenon of Ima’shar developed in the city of Tiznit and turned into a simple carnival without Jewish touches or Hebrew rituals, as was customary among the ancients who drew the spirit of joy from the mellah and all the customs of the Jews of the region.”

The ceremony includes comedic scenes by performing activities that simulate living reality, and the group consists of: Al-Hazan, Samiha, Tawaya, Tanawat, Al-Shorti, Al-Jamal and Al-Baqara, etc. This practice extends over two weeks and culminates in a great feast that is held in one of the shrines and becomes common to all visitors, without exception, for three days. However, this ritual is specific to men.

On the issue of freedom of religious belief in Morocco, Mohamed Tamtam says: (42)

”All nations and all peoples have rituals and religious ceremonies which differ from society to society, but they converge towards a goal, which is the strength and spirituality of the sacred, and that can be a person, a stone or a totem to the point that one can assume that: “Morocco is the country of a thousand saints and of different religions”, as Paul Pascon said. The territory includes not only the tombs of Muslim saints, but also the tombs of Jewish chief rabbis. Their places are dispersed in the north, the center and the south, in particular in the regions of Souss, Draa, Tata, Tiznit, Taroudant and Essaouira, in addition to numerous Jewish cemeteries. It includes the tombs and mausoleums of their rabbis and clerics, and among them is Rabbi David Ben Baruch Ha Cohen, who is located in the Tizerte area of the Taroudant region, and at a place called ” Aigzer N Bahmo”, 45 km from the city of Taroudant.”

The mellah of Tiznit
The mellah of Tiznit

The annual “Hiloula” pilgrimage (Hebrew: הזכרה)

The city walls of Tiznit encompass a number of houses inhabited by Jews decades ago, before they immigrated. They lived in peace and harmony with the people of the region. Alongside their houses, there is also a cemetery in the town, which still contains around 61 graves within its walls. The Jewish community of Tiznit, most of whom moved to European countries and Israel, still visits the tombs and houses, the last of which was a visit, accompanied by students and professors from Ibn Zohr University of Agadir, as part of the activities of the ”Tiznit Forum for the Culture of Dialogue and Coexistence”, organized in 2022.

Shortly after Moroccan independence in 1956, the Jewish communities of Souss left the region in which they had lived for centuries, particularly in Taroudant and the neighboring villages of Tamalokt, El Hanouane, Ait El Hadj, Montja, Herqata, Imtentagin. However, these group trips did not break their attachment to their Moroccan identity and their Amazigh traditions.

The place most revered by religious Jews is the tomb of Rabbi David ben Barouch Cohen Azogh. (43) This place is located in the Commune of Ouled Berhil about thirty kilometers east of Taroudant, on the road to Tizi N’Test.

About the notoriety of this Jewish saint, Yassine Benargane recounts in Yabiladi: (44)

“Legend has it that, as a child, the Jewish saint was born with a mark on his forehead. His father would have given the order to never let him out of the house, “unless he covered his forehead and his eyes”. He also reportedly predicted that anyone looking at the mark on the child’s forehead would risk going blind. This is also the reason why the family opted to live in small isolated villages.’’

This rabbi died around 1875 and is considered one of the most famous and honest Jews in Morocco. The annual “Hiloula” pilgrimage, which takes place at the end of the year, sees an influx of Jews from Europe, the United States, Israel, and all regions of Morocco. Pilgrims sometimes stay for up to two weeks. The mausoleum was extensively renovated and equipped to the point where it was built as a residence site.

Hiloula” is a familiar distortion of one of the frequent refrains of the Psalms of David, which is “Halilo Ya” (הללו), which means “Praise God”. Since all Moroccan Jews, like their Muslim compatriots, were illiterate, sometimes repeating Hebrew expressions without understanding their meaning, they sometimes distort their pronunciation, as illiterate Muslims do with classical Arabic expressions. (45)

On the night of “Hiloula“, many rituals take place, some of which are of a Jewish religious nature, and others which are ceremonial in the region. Visitors light candles in large quantities with the lighting of all graves and sides of the cemetery and the paths leading to the shrine of the saint and allocate a special fund for participants in the official seasonal ceremony to collect donations to constitute a budget for the next season or celebration. The candles they light and the matches are sold for very expensive amounts, believing that they contain the blessing of the deceased Jewish relatives. The auction of these candles, as well as the candle that illuminates the shrine which has great religious value, is considered one of the most important customs of the Hiloulas in Morocco.

These celebrations, despite their festive religious character, play a major role in consolidating the values of citizenship within the Moroccan Jewish community abroad, who return to their homeland to renew the covenant and attachment to their homeland, their history, and their connection to Morocco as a land of diversity, tolerance, and coexistence.

These religious rituals take place over a period of 3 to 7 days. When the visiting Jews gather in front of the shrine, they slaughter sacrificial animals, which they divide among themselves, distribute a group of them to the poor and needy and hold large festive meals. Throughout this period, the Torah is read aloud and candles are lit for the blessings of the dead and the good health of the living, and the last night is the biggest feast when everyone sings and shares food and gifts.

This important annual celebration is an opportunity for the Moroccan Jewish community to reaffirm its close connection to the homeland and the glorious Alawite throne, and to consolidate it for future generations, according to Rabbi Rabin Pinto, who stressed that Morocco is the homeland. of the Moroccan Jewish immigrant community, which requires of it unwavering and continuous loyalty for its happiness and its defense. (46)

The Tiznit Jews and goldsmithing

The Jews of Tiznit were known for their goldsmith work. The Jewish community of Tiznit was established in the 16th century and was known for its expertise in silver jewelry, including filigree and engraving. Tiznit was an important center for the production of silver jewelry, and Jewish craftsmen played a major role in the city’s economy. Jewish silversmiths were known for their skill and attention to detail, and their work was highly sought after and appreciated by domestic and foreign buyers and especially collectors of fine art internationally.

The silverware produced by the Jews of Tiznit was characterized by intricate designs and patterns, often featuring motifs from nature, such as flowers and leaves. Jewelry was usually made from a mixture of silver and gold, and gold was used as a material to accentuate the intricacy of the silverware.

Unfortunately, with the mass immigration of Moroccan Jews to Israel in the mid-20th century, the Jewish community in Tiznit dwindled and the tradition of goldsmithing was, somewhat, lost. However, there are still a few artisans in Tiznit who continue to produce silver jewelry with traditional techniques, preserving the legacy of Jewish silversmiths.

The particularities of the Jews of Tiznit

Tiznit is an Amazigh city that had a small Jewish community with a unique history and culture. The Jewish community of Tiznit was originally made up of Berber Jews who had lived in the area for centuries.

One of the peculiarities of the Jews was their language. They spoke an Amazigh dialect known as Tashelhit, which is also spoken by many Muslims in the region. This dialect contains many Hebrew loanwords, reflecting the close relationship between the Jewish and Muslim communities of Tiznit.

The Jews had their customs and traditions in Tiznit. For example, celebrate the Jewish holiday of Mimouna  in a special way, (47) with traditional food and music. Mimouna is a holiday that marks the end of Passover (Pesach) and is celebrated by Jews in North Africa.

In addition, the Jews of Tiznit had a strong attachment to the land and engaged in agriculture and trade. They also established close relationships with the Muslim community and participated in local events and festivals.

Today, the Jewish community of Tiznit does not exist, because it has completely disappeared. However, efforts are being made to preserve the history and culture of this community, through the preservation of the historic synagogue and cemetery.

Jewish women from Tiznit
Jewish women from Tiznit

For some time, what is called in English “roots tourism”, for immigrants in search of their own history, and has had a growing influence on the interest in the traces of Jewish history in the Anti-Atlas. Jews who immigrated to Israel, Canada, or Australia and their descendants return to do tourism in their areas of origin. A visible sign of this new trend in Ifrane in the Anti-Atlas was the construction of a guest house in the Jewish quarter mellah, in the immediate vicinity of the synagogue. It is a welcoming home for every visitor of the Jewish faith.

On February 7, 2022, Tiznit celebrated its long Jewish cultural history, which over the centuries has been characterized by harmony and coexistence. The online newspaper Anfas Press wrote the following about it: (48)

”On February 9, 2022, the city of Tiznit will host the first session of the Tiznit Forum for the Culture of Dialogue and Coexistence under the slogan “Moroccan culture and promotion of the values of pluralism, coexistence, and openness to the other”, in coordination with the officials of Tiznit, and in cooperation with each of the communes of Souss-Massa, and the Chamber of Crafts. The Souss-Massa region includes the regional council of Tiznit, and the municipality of Tiznit, with the support of a group of partners.

The forum, organized by the Initiatives and Communications Foundation, is part of the Foundation’s belief that coexistence would highlight the mechanisms of communication and modes of understanding by standing on a common threshold, which is universal humanity, in addition to the fact that coexistence has become a cultural need and a civilized necessity to advance the human being and the relations that unite the different religions and cultures. In addition to the great importance given at the present time to the study of the material and moral conditions of the Jews and the components of their cultural identity, taking into account the manifest accumulation at the level of the care of the Moroccan Jewish heritage, because today the subject of the Hebrew dimension in the history and heritage of the Kingdom has become at the heart of the territorial strategies of certain Moroccan cities according to development options, the cultural success, in order to improve the attractiveness of the place.”

The newspaper goes on to say:

”Through the organization of the forum, the Foundation aims to create an annual cultural, artistic, scientific, economic, and touristic tradition in the city of Tiznit, recalling that Tiznit and its desert through the ages have been and still are a land of dialogue and a symbol of tolerance, coexistence, and dissemination of spiritual values, among the components of the Moroccan personality, whether with Christians or Jews.”

Conclusion: preserving the heritage of cohabitation in Tiznit

Jews first arrived in Tiznit in the 16th century, when the city was established as a commercial center for the exchange of goods between the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic coast. (49)

Over the centuries, the Jewish community of Tiznit flourished and practiced various trades such as jewelry, sewing, and money lending. They also played an important role in the cultural and social life of the city, with many synagogues and other Jewish institutions established throughout the city.

However, the Jewish population of Tiznit began to decline in the 20th century, especially after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Many Jews left Tiznit and other parts of Morocco to start a new life in Israel., Europe, and North America. Today, most of the city’s synagogues and Jewish institutions have been abandoned or repurposed.

Despite the decline of Tiznit’s Jewish community, the city still bears witness to the rich heritage and culture of the Jews who once thrived there. Tiznit’s historic Jewish quarter, known as the mellah, is still visible, and many of the city’s traditional buildings and landmarks are tied to the Jewish community’s past. However, the Muslim population, as elsewhere in Morocco, bitterly regrets (50) the departure of members of the Jewish community. (51)

The close bond between Moroccan Jews and their motherland was encouraged by successive kings on the throne of Morocco, and the state codified it through laws. The 2011 constitution is the first constitution of an Arab-Muslim country that recognizes Jewish culture as an essential element of the country’s cultural pluralism and emphasizes the Jewish and Hebrew components as one of the tributaries of the multiple Moroccan identities. (52)

A number of Moroccan Jews in Israel still practice the professions of their ancestors in Morocco, such as jewelry engraving, which is known in the city of Tiznit in southern Morocco, and this is, without a doubt, the largest stronghold of Moroccan Jewish goldsmiths throughout history.

The appreciation of Moroccan Jews for the royal institution is due to the position of the late King Mohammed V, (53) who refused to hand over the Jews to the “Vichy” government, which cooperated with the German regime during World War II. Moreover, Moroccan nationality is not legally “lost” to its holder, meaning that there are approximately one million Jews of Moroccan descent living in Israel today who retain their citizenship forever. 

Most Moroccan Jews lived in the middle of the old quarters of the ancient cities of Morocco, and these quarters were called “the mellah“, where they gathered as a small sect exercising their professions and living peacefully in a Muslim country.

The immigration of Moroccan Jews to Israel has not been a bed of roses, (54) as they have come up against the racism that the host country has shown towards Jews from the East in general, according to what was mentioned by Moroccan Jewish historian Haim Zafarani in his book Two Thousand Years of Jewish Life in Morocco. (55)

Coexistence in Morocco highlights the mechanisms of communication and methods of understanding by standing on a common threshold, which is inclusive humanity, besides the fact that coexistence has become a cultural need and a civilized necessity in the valuation of human beings and in the relationships that bring together different religions and cultures. 

It is necessary to underline, however, the extreme importance which is currently attached to the study of the material and moral conditions of the Moroccan Jews and the components of their cultural identity, taking into account the manifest accumulation at the level of the taking in charge of Moroccan Jewish heritage. Today, it goes without saying that the question of the Hebrew dimension in the history and heritage of Morocco has become at the heart of the territorial strategies of certain Moroccan cities according to successful cultural development options, in order to improve the attractiveness of the place.

Among the historical vestiges of the interfaith coexistence of Morocco of yesterday and today, we find at a distance of 52 km from the city of Tiznit and 6 km from the mausoleum of Sidi Ahmed Ou Moussa, Dar Iligh, (56) a historical monument that played an important economic and social role at a time in the history of Morocco, in general, and of the Souss, in particular. (57)  Dar Iligh still retains several urban landmarks, including reeds, walls, and other landmarks, as well as two Jewish cemeteries and a salt mill. (58) Dar Iligh was a fine example of cultural and religious coexistence (59) between Muslims and Jews, where the Jews of Iligh played an important role in the success of Dar Iligh’s trade between Souss and the Moroccan desert as well as the Sahel (Sahara trade). (60)

At the same time, at the side of the road and in the center of the town of Errachidia, stands the Jewish shrine of “Beit Kfarout” near the Islamic cemetery, where the souls of the Jewish and Muslim dead rest in love and peace. The living cross it daily, and no one notices this paradox, which may seem strange, but that is not the case because quite simply the average Moroccan has always carried the values of tolerance and coexistence in his DNA.

The city of Tiznit, in all this, tells the story of an ancient city that has always been a crucible of human civilization of love and respect for others in their difference, of a miraculous and unique coexistence in the annals of human history, which undoubtedly translates into the coexistence of Muslims, Jews, and Christians in an environment that imposes respect for the sacredness of others.

You can follow Professor Mohamed Chtatou on Twitter: @Ayurinu


  1.  Abitbol, Michel. Histoire du Maroc. Paris : Perrin, 2009, pp. 411-412.
  2.  Son of Sheikh Maâ El Ainaine, the mythical leader of the Sahrawi tribes and in particular their large component, that of the R’guibat, Sheikh Sidi Ahmed El Hiba, born in 1875, had a particularly turbulent career. In the wake of the signing of the Fez agreement in 1912 establishing the Franco-Spanish protectorate in Morocco, he was proclaimed Sultan in the region of Marrakech. Will follow the battle of Sidi Bouathmane and the crushing of his forces by the French Army. Abandoned by his supporters, he will return to Tiznit where his father is buried.
  3.  Hoisington, William A. Lyautey and the French Conquest of Morocco. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1995, chap. 5 (« Conquering Morocco’s South »), p. 95.
  4.  Kenbib, Mohamed. Juifs et Musulmans au Maroc, 1859-1948. Rabat : Université Mohammed V, publications de la faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines, 1994.
  5.  Essaouira (formerly called Mogador by the Portuguese, in Arabic: الصويرة aṣ-Ṣawîrah, in Tachelhit: ⵜⴰⵚⵚⵓⵕⵜ Taṣṣuṛt) whose foundation was relatively late compared to other medinas in North Africa was the work of the Alawite Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah (1757-1790), who wanted to make this small Atlantic city a royal port and a chief town of Moroccan trade with the outside. Cf. Ben Driss Ottmani, Hamza. Une Cité sous les alizés, Mogador : Des origines à 1939. Rabat : Éditions La Porte, 1997.
  6.  Johannes Leo Africanus (born Al-Hasan Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Fasi, in Arabic: الحسن محمد الوزان الفاسي; in Berber: ⵃⴰⵙⴰⵏ ⵓ ⵎⵓⵃ ⵎⵎⴷ ⵍⵡⵣⵣⴰⵏ ⵍⵖⴰⵕⵟⵉⵏⵉ ; c. 1494-C. 1554) was an Amazigh Andalus diplomat and writer. He is best known for his book Cosmographia and Geographia de Affrica of 1526, later published by Giovanni Battista Ramusio as Descrittione dell’Africa (Description of Africa) in 1550. This book is on the geography of the Maghreb and the Nile Valley. The work is considered by his scholarly peers in Europe to be the most authoritative treatise on the subject until the modern exploration of Africa. For this work, Leo becomes a household name among European geographers. He converted from Islam to Christianity and changed his name to Johannes Leo de Medici (يوحنا الأسد). Cf. Cf. Africanus, Leo. The History and Description of Africa /Histoire et description de l’Afrique (3 volumes). Brown, Robert, éditeur. Londres : Hakluyt Society, 1896. Internet Archive: Volume 1 (pp. 1-224), Volume 2 (pp. 225-668) ; and Volume 3 (pp. 669-1119) geographical index.
  7. Gamal Said, Noha. ‘’Sonic Affordances of a Sacred Spring. The Urban Courtyard as a Figure of Rehabilitation of the Medina’’, Journal of Sonic Studies, 2020. ffhal-02998784
  8. ‎ Vol 7, No.34, 2022, pp. 59-81.
  9.  Kourdou, Ibtissam & Taoufik Cherradi. “Restoration of built heritage Case study of earth constructions-Tiznit.” International Journal of Engineering Research in Africa, Vol. 25, 2016, p. 133.
  10.  Zafrani, Haïm. Yahoud al-Andalous wa al-Maghrib (Les Juifs d’Andalousie et du Maroc), translated into Arabic by Ahmed Chahlane, first part. Casablanca : Najah El Jadida, 2006.
  11.  An Amazigh fibula (Tarifit: ⵜⵉⵙⵖⵏⵙⵜ, romanized: Tisɣnst, Tachelhit: ⵜⴰⵥⵕⵥⵉⵜ, romanized: Taẓṛẓit, Moroccan Arabic: تزرزيت, romanized: taẓṛẓit) is a traditional jewel or brooch that has practical and symbolic importance in the Amazigh cultural heritage. As a common item of jewelry in Berber cultures, its use was widespread among the tribes of North Africa. Its exact shape may vary from tribe to tribe, but it basically consists of a triangle under a ring or semi-circle and a pin to hold unsewn garments together. Cf. Rabaté, Marie-Rose ; Goldenberg, André & Thau, Jean-Louis. Bijoux du Maroc du Haut Atlas à la Méditerranée, depuis le temps des juifs jusqu’à la fin du XXe siècle. Casabanca : Eddif ; Saint-Rémy-de-Provence : Edisud, 1999.
  13.  Sheppard, Lyn. ‘’Berber Jewelry, The Art of Moroccan Silver’’, Morocco Travel,  December 22, 2014.
  14.  Chtatou, Mohamed. ‘’The Expulsion of Sephardic Jews from Spain in 1492 and their Relocation and Success in Morocco’’, Researchgate, 2019.
  15.  Atta Ali Muhammad Shehata Ray. Al-Yahoud fi bilad al-Magrib al-Aqsa fi ‘ahdi al-Mariniyyine wa al-Wattassiyyine (Les Juifs de l’Extrême-Maghreb sous le règne des Marinides et des Wattasides). Damas : Dar al-Kalima et Dar al-Shafiq pour l’impression, l’édition et la distribution, 1999, p. 190.
  16.  Mansour, Mohamed. Al-Maghrib qabla al-isti’mâr (Le Maroc avant le colonialisme), translated into Arabic by Mohamed Hobeida. Casablanca : Centre culturel arabe, 2006, p. 42.
  17.  Kenbib, Mohamed. Yahoud al-Maghrib 1948-1912 (Les Juifs du Maroc 1948-1912), translated into Arabic by Driss Bensaïd. Casablanca : Imprimerie Najah El Jadida, 1998, p. 169.
  18.  Kredya, B. Histoire des juifs de Safi. מורשת יהדות מרוקויהדות מרוקו עברה ותרבות – La Préservation, la Diffusion & le Rayonnement du Judaïsme Marocain.
  19.  Abu Al-Abbas Ahmed Al-Nasseri. Al-Istiqsâ fi akhbar al- Maghreb al-Aqsa (Enquête dans l’actualité du Maghreb Al-Aqsa), 9th part. Casablanca : Dar Al-Kitab, 1956, pp. 113-114.
  20.  See the studies related to the history of the Jews in Morocco, in the Maghreb countries and in Andalusia through the different eras in the following works: Delouya, Arrik. Les juifs du Maroc (The Jews of Morocco): general bibliography: summaries, annotations, reviews. Paris: Libraitie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 2001; Les Juifs du Maghreb et d’al‐Andalus (The Jews of the Maghreb and al‐Andalus). Bibliography. Preface Frédéric Abécassis and Karima Dirèche, March 2010. Bibliography published on the occasion of the holding of the international conference Migrations, identity and modernity in the Maghreb in Essaouira, March 17-20, 2010. Available in pdf in: http://bibmed. mmsh.univ-aix
  21.  Benchabo-Benlolo, Guila. ‘’Les Juifs berbères du Haut-Atlas et de l’Anti Atlas :
    Vêtements, bijoux et lieux de culte’’,  Revue des Etudes Berbères 9. Works of LaCNAD, 2013.
  22.  Lasri, Siham. “Les femmes juives dans le Maroc pré-Protectorat”. Hespéris-Tamuda LI (3), 2016, p. 195-219.
  23.  Goulven, J. “Notes sur les origines anciennes des israélites du Maroc,” Hespéris-Tamuda, I, 1921, pp. 315-336. Cf. :Kenbib, Mohammad. Les Juifs du Maroc 1912-1948, translated into Arabic by Idriss Bensaïd. Rabat : Publications de la Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines, 1998, p.17 ; 
  24. Here are some books that might be useful to learn more about the Jewish community of Tiznit: “Les Juifs du Maroc : étude sociologique” de Shmuel Trigano ; “Juifs et Berbères au Maroc : des origines à nos jours” de Joseph Chetrit ; “Jewish Sites and Synagogues of Morocco” de Jacques Levy ; “Les Juifs du Maroc et leur patrimoine” de Serge Berdugo et Simon Lévy ;  “Juifs du Maroc : une communauté en diaspora” de Michel Abitbol ; and “Les Juifs au Maroc : Bibliographie” de David Bensoussan.
  25.  Chtatou, Mohamed. ‘’Les juifs berbères, qui sont-ils?’’, Le Monde Amazigh, November 13, 2022.
  26.  « Les Juifs amazighs de Tahala : histoire, vie privée et coexistence religieuse », Tiznit, July 26, 2015,
  27.  Tahiri, Mohamed. « Tahala est un village berbère qui a été témoin de la coexistence des juifs et des musulmans du pays », Hespress, August 11, 2015, %A3%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%BA%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%B4%D9%87%D8%AF%D8%AA-%D8 %AA%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%8A%D8%B4-%D9%8A%D9%87%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84-236827.htm
  28.  Chahlane, Ahmed. « La tentative de réforme de l’éducation juive au Maroc au XIXe siècle et le rôle des écoles syndicales israéliennes dans les conditions d’avant la protection », among the proceedings of the seminar entitled: Reform and Moroccan Society in the XIXth Century. Casablanca :  Imprimerie Najah El Jadida, October 1986, p. 213.
  29.  Chouraqui, André. L’Alliance israélite universelle et la Renaissance juive contemporaine, 1860-1960. Paris : P.U.F., 1965.
  30.  Zafrani, Haim. ‘’Les langues juives du Maroc’’, Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, 4, 1967, pp. 175-188.
  31.  “לשונות יהודיות במרוקו ותרגומי המקרא ליהודית-ערבית / LANGUES JUIVES DU MAROC ET TRADUCTIONS JUDÉO-ARABES DE LA BIBLE”, Revue Européenne Des Études Hébraïques, 1997, pp. 111–27. JSTOR,
  32.  The bar-mitsvah (in Hebrew: בר מצוה) is the status of religious majority acquired by young Jewish boys, at the age of 13. By extension, the expression also designates the optional ceremony celebrating this passage.
  33.  A Talmid Hakham (Hebrew: תלמיד חכם “Disciple of Sage”) is a title of Talmudic origin originally designating a scholar in Jewish materials which has not yet been rabbi.
  34.  Pilpoul פיליפול masculine noun (Hebrew word), extremely fussy discussion of a point of Talmudic doctrine.
  35.  Semikha (Hebrew: סמיכה לרבנות “imposition [of hands] to [confer] rabbinic authority”) is the process of transmitting authority within the children of Israel, designating an individual as rabbi.
  36.  Soualem, Ahmed. « Flashs de l’histoire de l’éducation juive au Maroc », Mominoun sans frontières, April 19, 2016. D8%AA- %D9%85%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%AE-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B9 %D9%84 %D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%87%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%BA%D8%B1%D8%A8-3851
  37.  Chtatou, Mohamed. ‘’ The Mellah of Fez, Abode of Moroccan Jews and Center of their Activities’’, Sphardic Horizons, Volume 13, Issues 1-2, Winter-Spring 2023.
  38.  The mellah is primarily an architectural form for Jews in Morocco’s historic capitals, but as an embodiment of the status of dhimmis, they enjoyed relative independence in its management, administration, and judiciary, allowing Jews the freedom to practice their rituals within the mellah and organizing their social life accordingly. Morocco’s rich history includes a long period of religious tolerance between Muslims and Jews as they worked together to expand their trade. Jews living in a separate neighborhood meant that they were protected within the walls of the kasbah and paid taxes to the government. Jews held lucrative positions as bank officials, tailors and jewelers, etc. The mellah became a small town for the Jews, with synagogues and open-air markets, fountains and terraces overlooking narrow streets.
  39.  Hamdouni Alami, Yazid. ‘’ The mellahs without jews: a lost memory’’, Journal of Tourism and Heritage Research, Vol 2, No 3, 2019.
  40.  Lasri, Siham. « Les Mellahs dans les villes marocaines », Anfas, January 2, 2015.
  41.  Jouahri, Hind. “Le Festival Ima’shar démarre à Tiznit”, Yespress 7.
  42.  Tamtam, Mohamed. « Al-Hiloula… Le voyage de retour au sanctuaire sacré »,, December 31, 2020.
  43.  Benargane, Yassine. ‘’ Pèlerinage juif au Maroc #5 : David Ben Barroukh ou le légendaire saint de Taroudant’’, Yabiladi, June 25, 2019.
  44. Ibid
  45.  Sakkat, Hanane. “Sujet Hilola, la lettre Haa”, Encyclopédie du Maroc, Volume 22, pp. 7536-7537.
  46.  Sebti, Abdelahad. ‘’Maroc, terre juive’’, Zamane, No. 30, May 2013.
  47.  Mimouna is a Jewish holiday par excellence, celebrated each year by Moroccan Jews on April 23 and 24, the days immediately following Easter. This festive practice began three centuries ago. With the passing of the years and the emigration of a large part of Moroccan Jews to Israel, the Mimouna holiday was no longer reserved for Moroccan Jews alone, and it became a holiday for all Jews in Israel, and Tel Aviv declared it a national holiday. However, this did not prevent some Moroccan Jews from taking advantage of the opening of flights to Tel Aviv and traveling to the Kingdom in large numbers to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover in their home country.
  48.  Saïd Al Jirari. « Tiznit célèbre la dimension hébraïque et honore les Juifs de la région Souss-Massa », Anfas Press, February 7, 2022. 51
  49.  Crossing more than 600 miles of the Sahara Desert between sub-Saharan and North Africa, the Trans-Saharan Trade Route is a network of roads that enabled trade between the 8th and 17th centuries. Cf. Bovill, E.W. Golden Trade of the Moors. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1968.
  50.  Hachkar, Kamal. TINGHIR-JERUSALEM, LES ÉCHOS DU MELLAH. Film documentaire, 2013, 1h26mn.
  51.  Chtatou, Mohamed. ‘’ Moroccan Jews Departure to Israel Regretted in Morocco’’, African Exponent, January 10, 2017.
  52.  Constitution of the Kingdom of Morocco, 2011.
  53.  Assaraf, Robert. « Chapitre II – Mohammed V », in Mohammed V et les Juifs du Maroc à l’époque de Vichy sous la direction de Assaraf Robert. Paris: Plon, 1997, pp. 65-84.
  54.  Chtatou, Mohamed. ‘’Moroccan Jews In Israel: Discrimination In The New Homeland’’, Eurasia Review, August 30, 2021.
  55.  Zafrani, Haïm. Deux mille ans de vie juive au Maroc: Histoire et culture, religion et magie. Paris : Maisonneuve & Larose, 1999.
  56.  Faouzi, Hassan. “Patrimoine, mémoire, enjeu politique et territoire. Cas de la Maison d’Iligh (royaume de Tazeroualt), Souss-Massa, Maroc”, Belgeo, 1, 2022.
  57.  Ennaji, M. « Le royaume imaginaire de Tazerwalt XIXe siècle », in Hogervorst B. (dir.), La maison d’Iligh. Un carrefour historique entre Tombouctou, le Maroc et l’Europe. Marrakech : Ed. Maison de la Photographie de Marrakech, 2021, pp. 34-41.
  58.  Pascon, Paul. La Maison d’Iligh et l’histoire sociale du Tazerwalt. Rabat : Société Marocaine des Editeurs Réunis, 1984.
  59.  Pascon, Paul & Schroeter, Daniel. ‘’Le cimetière juif d’Iligh (1751-1955). Etude des épitaphes comme documents d’histoire sociale’’, Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, no. 34, 1982, pp. 39-62.
  60.  Iligh is a historical city located in the middle of the Tazeroualt tribe in the Souss. It was founded by Prince Abu Hassoun as-Semlali and made it the capital of his emirate. He started to build it in the year 1021 AH and lived in it in the year 1031 AH. He built a wall and made four gates for it: Bab al-Ain, Bab Azaghar, Bab Tal’int and Bab al-Malahin, and delegated people to his residence. He separated markets lined with stores, and forced tribes to move to his new capital to populate it, including the Imazighen and the Sahrawi Bedouin. A group of Jews had settled there before, so they built a large synagogue, but it was later demolished by a fatwa of Sheikh Abi Mahdi Isa Al-Saktani after a dispute between the jurists of Iligh about its legality, considering that the Jews of Iligh were dhimmis and not the original inhabitants of the country, and that they had two cemeteries and a mellah already.

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou is a Professor of education science at the university in Rabat. He is currently a political analyst with Moroccan, Gulf, French, Italian and British media on politics and culture in the Middle East, Islam and Islamism as well as terrorism. He is, also, a specialist on political Islam in the MENA region with interest in the roots of terrorism and religious extremism.

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  • May 11, 2023 at 8:08 am



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