The Moroccan students who came into the cold

During the 1950s and 1960s, the student cohort in a yeshiva or religious school in the northern  English town of Sunderland was entirely made up  of Jews from Morocco.  The religious magazine Mishpacha tells their story: (with thanks: Nigel)

Remembering Rav Shammai Zahn, who taught many students at the Sunderland Yeshiva

From 1952 to 1967 and beyond, in the quiet, chilly British town of Sunderland, far from the Mediterranean sunshine, far from their parents in Tangiers, Fez, Casablanca, or Marrakesh, boys who had barely studied Gemara before blossomed into serious yeshivah students.

Some notable personages include Rav Nissim Rebibo ztz”l, who became rosh beis din of Marseille, then of Paris, then of the entire France; Rabbi Shimon Biton ztz”l, who served as the venerated av beis din of Marseille, his fascinating life recorded in the ArtScroll biography of his wife Rabbanit Shulamit Biton-Blau, From Djerba to Jerusalem; Dayan Saadia Amor ztz”l, rosh beth din of the Sephardi Beth Din of the UK and mechutan of Rav Mordechai Eliyahu; Rav Avraham Baddouch ztz”l, a rosh kollel in Mexico; Rav Refael Yisrael ztz”l; and yibadel lechayim tovim, Rav Gavriel Ittah of Strasbourg, among others.

There’s also Kabbalist Rabbi David Pinto who has set up Torah institutions around the world, and Rav Shalom Gabbai, who went back to lead the community in Marrakesh.
Dozens of others became shochtim and menakrim trusted by stringent kashrus authorities, and sincere, learned laymen.
Glossary of terms:
Bochurim: ‘Yeshiva boys
Talmidei Hahamim: Rabbinical students
Av Beit din: senior religious court judge
Rosh Beit Din: Head of religious court
Rosh Kollel: Head of married students’ yeshiva
Mechutan: relative by marriage
Shochtim: ritual slaughterers
Menakrim: inspectors

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This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

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