Month: September 2016

Moroccan newspaper mentions mass conversion of Fez Jews

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).
 

As
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.

Read article in full (French)

The Seder for Rosh Hashana

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. 

WISHING all Blog Readers SHANA TOVA 5777!

 

The following is based on an article by Chabad:

 

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:

  • Dates
  • French beans
  • Leeks
  • Beets
  • Gourd or Marrow
  • Pomegranate
  • 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:

תמרים

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.

After eating the date, take another one and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּתַּמּוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that
there come an end to our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon
us.

רוביא—לוביא

Small beans. Related to the words, רב—many, and לב—heart.

(The following blessing over vegetables is only recited if one has not recited the blessing over bread:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה

Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the earth.)

Take some white beans and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּרְבּוּ זָכִיּוֹתֵינוּ וּתְלַבְּבֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that our merits shall increase and that You hearten us.

כרתי

Leek. Related to the word כרת—to cut.

Take a leek and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ,
שֶׁיִּכָּרְתוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that
our enemies, haters, and those who wish evil upon us shall be cut down.

סלקא

Beets. Related to the word סלק—to depart. (Spinach (Selk in Arabic) is also used – ed)

Take a beet and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ,
שֶׁיִּסְתַּלְּקוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that
our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us shall depart.

קרא

Gourd. Related to the word קרע—to rip apart, and also קרא—to announce.

Take a gourd and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ,
שֶׁתִּקְרַע רוֹעַ גְּזַר דִּינֵנוּ, וְיִקָּרְאוּ לְפָנֶיךָ
זָכִיּוֹתֵינוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that
the evil of our verdicts be ripped, and that our merits be announced
before you.

רימון

Pomegranate.

Take the pomegranate and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁנִּהְיֶה מְלֵאִים מִצְוֹת כָּרִמּוֹן

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that we be filled with mitzvot like a pomegranate [is filled with seeds].

תפוח בדבש

Apple and Honey.

Dip an apple in honey – some have the custom of using an apple cooked with sugar – and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁתְּחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה כַּדְּבָשׁ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that You renew for us a year good and sweet like honey.

ראש כבש

Ram’s Head (or the head of another kosher animal or fish).

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁנִּהְיֶה לְרֹאשׁ וְלֹא לְזָנָב

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that we be a head and not a tail.

(The following is added only over the head of a ram:

וְתִזְכֹּר לָנוּ עֲקֵדָתוֹ וְאֵילוֹ שֶׁל יִצְחָק אָבִינוּ בֶּן אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עַלֵיהֶם הַשָּׁלוֹם

…And You shall remember for us the binding and the ram of our forefather Isaac, the son of our forefather Abraham, peace be onto them.)

Kurds hold ‘funeral’ for Shimon Peres z””l

One of the more surprising tributes to the Israel statesman Shimon Peres has come from Kurdistan, according to Kurdistan 24 News:

Shimon Peres, who died on 28 September 2016

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) –
Kurds held a funeral on Wednesday for Shimon Peres, former President and
Prime Minister of Israel, in a show of respect for his support for
Kurds.

The founding father of Israel, who is
also a Nobel Peace Prize winner, died on Wednesday morning, after weeks
of suffering from a major stroke.

Kurds in the Province of Duhok held a funeral for Peres, sending condolences to his family.

Kurds’ respect for Peres came after his meeting with the US President Barack Obama in 2014.

Peres advised the United States to
support the Kurds and the creation of a Kurdish state, praising the
democracy practiced in the Kurdistan Region.

“The Kurds have, de facto, created their
own state, which is democratic. One of the signs of a democracy is the
granting of equality to women,” Peres told Obama in 2014.

Read article in full 

Jerusalem Post

Jews lend legitimacy to Moroccan claim

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
and hopping.

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)
continued dancing.

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.

Read article in full 

Jews protest for occupied W. Sahara

   

Turkish minorities are scapegoats for failed coup

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
investigations.


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
to them.”

“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.

Read article in full

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