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December 16, 1988 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-16

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I Foes,

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Oasis In An Arab Land:
The Jews Of Morocco


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11 ■ 1•11,




ince the end of World
War II, Jews in Arab
countires have em-
igrated to Israel in part out of
fear of persecution should
they remain intheir native
But in Morocco, Jews have
lived in relative security since
1956, having legal rights
under its two constitutional
monarchs, Kings Mohammed
V and his son, Hassan II, the
current ruler.
Jews have lived here since
the destruction of the First
Temple. After the State of
Israel was established, more
than 300,000 of them left,
mainly for France or Israel.
Ten thousand Jews live in
Morocco today, 6,000 of them
in Casablanca. The Jewish
community, the largest in any
Arab country, will likely con-
tinue to shrink because most
Jewish youth attend college
in Europe and seek employ-
ment there.
Despite being predominant-
ly Sunni Moslem, the country
is staunchly pro-Western.
Jews specialize in the hotel
business, as well as in elec-
tronics, finance and real
estate. In speeches, Hassan
has urged Moroccan Jews liv-
ing abroad to return.
Other positive signs for
Moroccan Jews include
Hassan's 1986 public meeting
with Labor Party leader
Shimon Peres, despite the
king's position as chairman of
the Arab League's committee
to reunite Jerusalem under
Muslim rule; and later in
1986, Hassan's eleborate per-
sonal security force learned of
a planned bombing of a
Moroccan synagogue around
the High Holidays by in-
dividuals linked to the
Palestine Liberation
Organization. The suspects
were arrested in their hotel
rooms, with the hotel subse-
quently closed for eight
Jewish facilities in Mar-
rakech are familiar to those
in other cities where the
4,000 Jews outside Casablan-
ca live — Rabat, the capital,
Fez, Meknes, Tangier and
Tetouan. Marrakech has a
few synagogues, a ritual bath,
a Hebrew day school and an
old-age home.
David Dayan, principal of
the Aliyon Hebrew day school
in Marrakech, and Henri
Cadoch, the 52-year-old corn-
munity president, are two of

Marrakech's major Jewish
Dayan, who has been teach-
ing at the school for 40 years,
said there were 1,500 Jewish
students when he started and
650 two decades ago. There
are now 30 students through
age 11. "You have to push
them as hard as you can,"
Dayan said.
After age 11, students at-
tend the French-supported
school in Marrakech, or at-
tend Jewish schools in
Casablanca. Virtually no
Jews attend the regular
Throughout Morocco, pic-
tures of Haassan grace its
streets and buildings. At the
Aliyon school, Hassan's por-
trait competes for attention at
the entrance with one of Rab-
bi Menachem Schneerson,
the Lubavitcher rebbe. In
Casablanca, two Lubavitch
schools educate 200 Moroccan
Moroccan Jews especially
revere Maimonides, who once
lived in Fez. His birth and
death are marked with
special events, as are other
prominent rabbis.
Cadosh, 52, an exporter of
fruit, said his family has liv-
ed in Marrakech for 10
generations. Of his seven
children, two live in Paris,
two in Casablanca and three
in Marrakech. Two are still in
Cadoch said he has not
seriously considered moving
to Israel, or even to Casablan-
ca, because of his role as
caretaker of the city's Jewish
Cadoch was born in the ci-
ty's Jewish ghetto, the Mellah
— the "Salt Palace" — the on-
ly original Moroccan Jewish
ghetto where Jews still live.
The street running through
the Mellah was designed nar-
row enough for food to be ex-
changed from windows on the
Sabbath. At a synagogue
operating at the end of the
Mellah, congregants donate
medium-size lamps to com-
memorate the death of a fami-
ly members.
A more unusual "yahrzeit"
custom at Casablanca's Home
for the Aged is for a communi-
ty member to sponsor a
festive meal at the home,
usually lamb, the main
Moroccan meat. Kosher meat
is plentiful, especially in
Casablanca, where there are
18 kosher butchers for 6,000
Jews. Some 95 percent keep

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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