Multiple traditions of Jewish origins in Morocco emphasize the distinctiveness of Moroccan Jewry as indigenous to the area, rooted in its earliest settlements and possessing deep connections and associations with the historic peoples of the region. The creative interaction of Moroccan Jewry with the Arab and Berber cultures was noted in the Jews’ use of Morocco’s multiple languages and dialects, characteristic poetry, and musical works as well as their shared magical rites and popular texts and proverbs. In Jews and Muslims in Morocco: Their Intersecting Worlds historians, anthropologists, musicologists, Rabbinic scholars, Arabists, and linguists analyze this culture, in all its complexity and hybridity. The volume’s collection of essays span political and social interactions throughout history, cultural commonalities, traditions, and halakhic developments. As Jewish life in Morocco has dwindled, much of what is left are traditions maintained in Moroccan ex-pat communities, and memories of those who stayed and those who left. The volume concludes with shared memories from the perspective of a Jewish intellectual from Morocco, a Moroccan Muslim scholar, an analysis of a visual memoir painted by the nineteenth-century artist, Eugène Delacroix, and a photo essay of the vanished world of Jewish life in Morocco.
Joseph Chetrit is professor emeritus of socio-pragmatics, French linguistics, and Judeo-Arabic linguistics at the University of Haifa.
Jane S. Gerber is professor emerita of history and founder and director of the Institute for Sephardic Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Drora Arussy is director of the American Sephardi Federation Institute of Jewish Experience.
Section 1. Political and Social Interactions
Chapter 1: Refuge in Morocco after 1492: From Iberian Outcast to Moroccan Dhimmi
Jane S. Gerber
Chapter 2: Jews and the Moroccan Monarchy in the Age of Imperialism
Daniel J. Schroeter
Chapter 3: Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Youssef and the Jews of Morocco During the Second World War: New Discoveries
Chapter 4: Centering the Margin: Family Networks, Occupational Mobility and Saharan Jews
Chapter 5: Jewish Bodies, Muslim Bodies, and French Medicine in Morocco
Jonathan G. Katz
Section 2. Cultural Commonalities
Chapter 6: Sebaa Ouled Ben Zmirou in Jewish and Muslim Contexts: Return to the Dead and Encounters After Death
José Alberto Rodrigues da Silva Tavim
Chapter 7: Invisible Neighbors: Demonology Between Jews and Muslims in Morocco
Chapter 8: A Common Language: Popular Music in Morocco
Vanessa Paloma Elbaz
Chapter 9: The Aḥwash: Articulations of a Shared Amazigh (Berber) Cultural Tradition in Morocco and its Diaspora
Section 3. Religious Traditions and Halakhic Developments
Chapter 10: Liturgy: An Overlooked Space in the Moroccan Jewish Musical Map
Chapter 11: The Image of Morocco in the Poetry of R. David Ben Ḥassin (1727-1792)
Chapter 12: Muslims and Christians in the Writings of 20th Century Hakhamim of Morocco
David Moshe Biton
Chapter 13: Traveling Between Place and Faith: Moroccan Jews Migrating to the Holy Land in the Nineteenth Century
Michal Ben Ya’akov
Chapter 14: Takkanot Concerning the Inheritances of Wives and Daughters among Moroccan Rabbis in the 15th – 20th Centuries
Chapter 15: Rabbi Refael ben Dva”sh: Precursor of Moroccan Legal Activity
Elimelech (Melech) Westreich
Section 4. Memoirs in Word and Image
Chapter 16: Memories of Jewish-Muslim Coexistence in the New Mellaḥ of Meknes and Jewish Heritage Conservation in Post-Colonial Morocco
Chapter 17: Growing up in the Mellaḥ of Taroudant: Spaces, Time, Acquaintances and Rupture. A Memoir with Two Poems
Chapter 18: Delacroix and the Jews of Morocco
About the Contributors
Capturing the dialectics and historical vicissitudes of Jewish-Muslim relations in Morocco in all their intricacy and multivocality is a challenging project. This comprehensive volume, which brings together the contributions of 18 leading scholars from a wide gamut of disciplines, faces up to this challenge admirably.
This volume weaves a rich tapestry of Jewish life in Morocco in pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial times. Topics include the role played by Jewish exiles from the Iberian Peninsula; Jewish-Muslim relations; and interaction with the French during the Protectorate (1912–1956). Developments in popular religion, folklore, poetry, music, liturgy, and law make this volume a fascinating introduction to the history and culture of this important and diverse community in the Islamic world.
Two thrusts have enriched the study of North African Jewish communities in recent decades. One is the deepening grasp of how scholarly, mystical, and liturgical developments in other Jewish centers were absorbed, preserved, and cultivated in the Maghreb. Second is the expanding appreciation of how Muslim society—both as the empowered majority and as quotidian neighbors—interpenetrated Jewish life. Jews and Muslims in Morocco weaves together these perspectives, providing a striking tapestry that both enhances our knowledge and invites continued research.
This collection of studies by some of the world’s leading scholars from a variety of disciplines offers a wide-ranging peregrination through Moroccan Jewish history and culture and its intricate and complex connection with the surrounding Islamic Arab and Berber cultural matrix. Readers are provided with in-depth, nuanced expositions of social and political interaction between Moroccan Jews and non-Jews and their shared cultural elements of language, literature, music, and popular beliefs and practices. It is a welcome addition to the growing literature on what was once the world’s largest non-Ashkenazi Jewish community with a unique and rich cultural heritage.