Jewish Discoveries

Watch: Morocco Welcomes Jewish Travelers Seeking Heritage, Community

Mezuza, Lazama Synagogue, Marakech. Courtesy of Richard Nowitz

On a recent visit to Morocco, we find a small community clinging to its ancient Jewish heritage in an Arab country.

Jews have lived in Morocco for over 2400 years, much of it in peaceful coexistence and respect with their Arab and Berber neighbors.

Emigration has reduced a once large population—over 250,000 Jews—to a tiny fraction that are now largely concentrated in Casablanca.

The Moroccan government has encouraged Jewish and Israeli tourism, with an emphasis on heritage and preservation. King Mohammed VI recently participated in the opening of a renovated synagogue in Marrakesh and has supported the restoration of the mellahs, the neighborhoods where Jews traditionally lived in the royal cities of Rabat, Fez, Marrakesh and Casablanca.

Thousands of Sephardic Jews visit Morocco each year on pilgrimages to the tombs of sages and revered rabbis. Visitors interested in Jewish culture will also find kosher restaurants, Jewish day schools, synagogues and community centers in the major cities.

Along with the noisy, walled cities crammed with bustling souks, spectacular desert landscapes and friendly locals, Jewish travelers will also find an opportunity to connect with the remnants of the community, proud to share its heritage and hospitality.

Photos courtesy of Richard Nowitz.

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