An extremely rare 2,000

AJN Agency.- The Moroccans who now live in the mellahs – historic urban quarters of Moroccan cities that were once Jewish quarters – know nothing of the people who lived there before them. These neighborhoods later became small, mostly poor, ghettos with little or no connection to modern-day Jews.

But a new program could change this situation. “Rebuild our homes” is a new initiative of the American Sephardic Federation and the Mimouna Association, lasting several years and supported by the International Development Agency. Its aim is to revive the thriving Jewish life in the historic urban areas of Fez, Essaouira and Rabat, teaching current residents about local history and helping them become part of the rich heritage of the place.

“We engage the residents of these neighborhoods in preserving the place by letting them document and upload photos of old Jewish homes to our archive, and by teaching them Hebrew,” Jason Guberman, executive director of the American Sephardic Federation, told The Media Line.

Guberman is one of the founders of this three-year project, which still has another 18 months to go.

“We wanted to make a connection between the youth and adults in these neighborhoods and their own history, as well as the rich Jewish heritage that surrounds them,” he explained.

Today, many of the residents of the mellahs make a living by creating Jewish artifacts and selling them to tourists. Mezuzas, Shabbat chandeliers and other traditional pieces made by Muslims fill the businesses of the star streets of the old Jewish neighborhoods.

“I took a course on traditional Jewish industry and how to mix it with local Moroccan art,” Hicham Essaidi, one of the artisans involved in the project, told The Media Line. “We learned what tools Jews use for their festivals, what is important in religion, and many other nuances,” he added.

Crafts created by local Muslims exhibited at the Rebuilding Our Homes exhibition that opened at the Mohammed V Foundation in Fez. (credit: COURTESY/REBUILDING OUR HOMES)

The course was presented in the framework of a cooperation between the Mimouna Association, the American Sephardic Federation, USAID and the Mohammad V Foundation.

Essaidi said that he is excited to meet the tourists who stroll through the neighborhood and expressed his hope that many Israelis will visit Morocco.

“We had to teach people not only the art, but also delve into the meaning of each artifact,” said El Mehdi Boudra, president of the Morocco-based Mimouna Association. “These artifacts will be sold to Jewish and Israeli tourists, which we expect in large numbers starting next year,” he added.

Some 200,000 Israeli tourists are expected to visit Morocco next year. Israel and Morocco agreed to normalize their relations in December 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords.

“There were only four Hebrew-speaking tour guides in the kingdom before we started the project. Now there are 200, and many more want to learn Hebrew. People are waiting for Jews to come visit us, and they are looking forward to interacting with them,” Boudra.

As for his own connection to Judaism, Boudra has a surprising answer.

“I am a proud Muslim. Ethically I am Arab and Amazigh. But culturally I am Moroccan, which also means Jewish,” Boudra said.

Morocco was home to the largest Jewish community in the Muslim world for centuries. Judaism is an integral part of our culture as Moroccans, and we should be proud of that, I am a proud Muslim. Ethically I am Arab. But culturally I am Moroccan, which also means Jewish », he concluded.

Source: The Jerusalem Post.

An extremely rare 2,000-year-old coin was returned to Israel