Two years ago, as Morocco adopted a new constitution while the Arab Spring raged throughout the Arab world, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI reached out to his country’s small Jewish population. He called for the renovation of all Jewish houses of worship in Morocco, so they could serve as centers for cultural dialogue.
His seeds of interfaith outreach bore fruit earlier this month.
The 17th-century Siat Alfassiyine synagogue in Fez, following a two-year refurbishing effort, reopened with a ceremony that drew some 200 people, including Morocco’s prime minister, who read a message from the king, as well as other members of the government, Islamic leaders and representatives of Germany. The German government contributed to the project.
The synagogue, which was used as a carpet workshop and a gym in recent centuries, had deteriorated before its recent renovation.
The restoration bears “eloquent testimony to the spiritual wealth and diversity of the Kingdom of Morocco and its heritage,” King Mohammed said in a statement read at the ceremony. “The Moroccan people’s cultural traditions, which are steeped in history, are rooted in our citizens’ abiding commitment to the principles of coexistence, tolerance and harmony between the various components of the nation.