Why did Jews leave Morocco and how does it feel to return? A new film, ‘Midnight Orchestra’ examines the reasons why Jews left Morocco, and follows a man’s return to his country of birth. A new book (below), Return to Casablanca, by Israeli anthropologist Dr Andre Levy looks at the changing relationship between Moroccan Jews and Muslims.
through the film, he discovers why his father, a famous musician, made
his family leave the country for Israel decades before.
director of “Midnight Orchestra,” Jérôme Cohen-Olivar, said the
fictitious family’s departure reflects a real decision that many
Moroccan Jews made between the 1950s and 1970s when Arab-Israeli
“At the peak of the community, I think it was
around a quarter of a million, 250,000 Jews in Morocco, which is a lot
if you count the total Jewish population – the world Jewish population,”
said Cohen-Olivar, speaking by phone from Morocco.
there are about 2,000 Jews left in Morocco, which is basically nothing,”
Cohen-Olivar said. “So I just ask myself this question: ‘Why?’ It’s as
simple as that. So that was the springboard of my story was just,
‘Why? Why did these people leave?'”
In his new book Return to Casablanca, anthropologist Dr.
André Levy assesses the impact of this massive emigration on those Jews
who decided to stay in his native Morocco. Dr. Levy is a senior lecturer
at BGU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
The book provides personal insights into the effects of the
diminished Moroccan Jewish community’s establishment of “spatial
divisions of spheres in order to obtain better control of interactions
Dr. Levy posits that as Israel gained more and more Moroccan Jews
into its citizenry, the wall between Muslim and Jewish Moroccans gained
more and more bricks. This concept — what Dr. Levy calls “contraction” —
depicts the way that modern Moroccan Jews deal with the ramifications
of their demographic dwindling.