The Ruins of a Remote Jewish Community in Morocco Could Be a Treasure Trove for Researchers

In the middle of the last century, Morocco was home to some 250,000 Jews. Today, their descendants make up a sizeable portion of Israel’s population. Ofer Aderet reports on the discovery of the remains of a forgotten Moroccan Jewish community deep in the Atlas Mountains, near the Sahara Desert:

The small Jewish community of Tamanart lived there from the 16th century to the early 19th century. Recently, researchers from Israel, Morocco, and France conducted salvage excavations in its ruined synagogue. Along with the building’s walls, they found Scriptures and pages from the synagogue’s genizah, a repository for damaged written matter and ritual objects, as well as a few paper amulets. One was meant to protect a woman in labor and her newborn, another a personal charm meant to protect its owner from trouble and disease.

Over the past two decades, the Moroccan royal family has initiated and given support to a host of projects meant to preserve the kingdom’s Jewish history. . . . This plan also encompasses the project undertaken by the abovementioned researchers. The synagogue in Tamanart, a village with 6,000 residents, is just one of the locations on an honorable list of Jewish sites in a large region in the southern part of Morocco.

The list includes the adjacent village of Ifrane, which, according to tradition, was home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in North Africa and the oldest one in Morocco. Some traditions say that after the destruction of the First Temple, refugees fleeing Jerusalem established a Jewish kingdom in Ifrane, headed by a king called Efrati. The village was also known for a tragic incident which occurred there in 1792, when 50 members of the Jewish community jumped into a burning furnace after the local ruler made them choose between converting to Islam or death by fire. They’ve been called “the immolated” since then, their ashes interred in the ancient local cemetery.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Archaeology, Moroccan Jewry, Morocco, Synagogues

Saudi Arabia Parts Ways with the Palestinian Cause

March 21 2023

On March 5, Riyadh appointed Salman al-Dosari—a prominent journalist and vocal supporter of the Abraham Accords—as its new minister of information. Hussain Abdul-Hussain takes this choice as one of several signals that Saudi Arabia is inching closer to normalization with Israel:

Saudi Arabia has been the biggest supporter of Palestinians since before the establishment of Israel in 1948. When the kingdom’s founder Abdulaziz Ibn Saud met with the U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard the USS Quincy in the Red Sea in 1945, the Saudi king demanded that Jews in Palestine be settled elsewhere. But unlimited Saudi support has only bought Palestinian ungratefulness and at times, downright hate. After the Abraham Accords were announced in August 2020, Palestinians in Gaza and Ramallah burned pictures not only of the leaders of the UAE and Bahrain but also of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS).

Since then, many Palestinian pundits and activists have been accusing Saudi Arabia of betraying the cause, even though the Saudis have said repeatedly, and as late as January, that their peace with Israel is incumbent on the establishment of a Palestinian state.

While the Saudi Arabian government has practiced self-restraint by not reciprocating Palestinian hate, Saudi Arabian columnists, cartoonists, and social-media activists have been punching back. After the burning of the pictures of Saudi Arabian leaders, al-Dosari wrote that with their aggression against Saudi Arabia, the Palestinians “have liberated the kingdom from any ethical or political commitment to these parties in the future.”

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia