Zamane, a Moroccan newspaper, has made a rare reference to the mass conversion of the Jews of Fez in the 15th century. It is a little known episode in the history of Morocco. (With thanks: Michelle)
Jewish homes with their distinctive balconies in the Mellah of Fez
An official of the French protectorate who was involved in collecting testimony on behalf of Mohamed V in 1953, tells how the Jews of Fez, the
“Muhajirin”, had to convert to Islam, giving rise to great Fassi families
that are thought to have always been Muslim.
One Marcel Vallat stumbled on an old manuscript recounting this episode. The unknown author describes an event itself little known in the history of Morocco. The text tells how, in fact, in the thirteenth century (sic : actually 15th c – ed), many Fez Jews
converted to Islam. They abandoned their faith after a great
massacre that decimated part of their community in Fez and opened the
way to a mass conversion to Islam.
The document was part of a collection, or Mejmoue,
belonging to an old Alawite from Rabat, Moulay Abderrahmane, better known
under the name “Moulay El Kebir”.
Vallat translated the title as “History of Muhajirs”, using the modern word for ‘citizens’. The manuscript was due to be
offered to Mohammed Ben Abderrahman, Sultan Mohammed IV (1859-1873) who
was the father of Moulay Hassan, the future Hassan I (1873- 1894). The document dates from the second half of the nineteenth century. After the death of Hassan I it fell into the hands of the
famous “Moulay El Kebir” who had agreed to lend it to the young Vallat.
The Arabic text is archived in the Royal Library. It
was studied first by the Fqih El Manouni and medievalist historian by
Mohamed Fatha (this scholarly analysis was published by Bouregreg in 2004).
for Marcel Vallat, he went back to France after Morocco became independent in 1956 and withdrew
completely from public life, cutting all ties with Morocco, where he
had made virtually his entire administrative career.
The Jewish New Year begins on Sunday evening with blessings for a
sweet New Year. Jews of Sephardi and Mizrahi origin will do more than
eat apple and honey: they will have a whole range of different foods.
On both nights of Rosh Hashanah,
a number of foods are eaten and a blessing recited over them to symbolize our prayers and hopes for a
sweet new year. Many of these foods were specifically chosen because
their Hebrew names are related to other Hebrew words that convey our
wishes for the coming year. You will need:
Gourd or Marrow
Apple (cooked in sugar) and honey, sometimes spiced
Head of a ram (or a fish)
After chanting kiddush, washing, and breaking bread, the following foods are eaten:
Dates. Related to the word תם—to end.
Take a date and recite:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָעֵץ Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.
An online video showing Jews in Morocco dancing around a giant photograph of King Mohamed VI has been attracting over 450, 000 views in a single day. The Jews are singing a song about the 1975 Green March into Western Sahara and serve to lend legitimacy to the Moroccan claim to the disputed territory. Morocco World News reports:
The video also shows the presence of
Muslims in the crowd and government officials, clapping while the
Moroccan Jews gather in the center around the photo of the king dancing
The song they danced to, ‘Sawt Al
Hassan’ (which means “The Call of Hassan” in English), is a particularly
important song for Moroccans. It records the memorable historical
moment of the ‘Green March’ when King Hassan II inspired Moroccans march
to the Moroccan Sahara to free it from the Spanish colonize (sic)
The Moroccan Jews have been an important
component of the Moroccan population. Moroccan Jews have lived in
Morocco for over 2,000 years. Between 1961 and 1964, however, around
97,000 Moroccan Jews immigrated to Israel through Operation Yakhin
conducted by the Israeli Mossad.
Christians and Jews in Turkey are growing more fearful of a resurgence of xenophobia. They are being targeted for blame for the failed July coup against the Erdogan government, Voice of America reports.
Abandoned Jewish cemetery at Edirne, Turkey (VOA)
Christian and Jews represent about two-tenths of one percent of Turkey’s mostly Muslim population of 79 million.
But pro-government media outlets as well as some government officials
have accused them of playing a role in the July coup attempt and have
stepped up the rhetoric against Christians and Jews.
At a “Democracy and Martyrs” rally in August, a pro-government,
million-strong anti-coup demonstration in Istanbul, three of the
speakers linked religious minorities to coup plotters, calling them
“seeds of Byzantium, “crusaders,” and a “flock of infidels.”
Christian and Jewish leaders, some of whom denounced the coup
attempt, were in attendance at the rally in attempt to show solidarity
with the government. Turkey has been in a state of emergency since the
coup attempt and tens of thousands of Turks have been jailed for
Turkish human rights lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz told VOA
pro-government media have “embraced an alarming narrative of
scapegoating Turkey’s religious minorities and connecting the coup plot
“Particularly pro-government media outlets have taken an anti-U.S.
and anti-EU attitude, which I can call a xenophobic attitude, in which
they attempt to demonize the West and accuse it of the coup attempt,” he
said. “And this narrative targets and harms non-Muslims in Turkey.”
Scholar Rifat Bali, who has written several books on Turkish Jews,
says that even though the report of minority ties to the coup have no
foundation, Christians and Jews are being targeted.
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Point of No Return
Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries
One-stop blog on the Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.