Uncovering the Lost Graves of Morocco’s Rabbinic Sages

In the Moroccan city of Tétouan, a concerted effort to restore the 500-year-old Jewish cemetery has led to the rediscovery of the graves of three celebrated local rabbis: Jacob Ben Malca, Hasday Almosnino, and Jacob Marrache. Leading the project is a British descendent of the last rabbi, who shares his name. Georgia Gilholy writes:

A scholar and revered religious judge (dayan), Ben Malca moved to Tétouan from Fez—some 150 miles to the southeast—in 1734 to become the head of the religious court. Almosnino, who was born in Tétouan in 1640 and lived in Gibraltar, was also an accomplished arbiter of Jewish law, who left behind impressive published works.

The Marrache whose grave was just rediscovered is the ancestor of the London-based Marrache, who called his namesake “a more enigmatic figure.” Born in 1640, the Kabbalist specialized in the writings of the 16th-century Rabbi Isaac Luria (known as the “Ari”) and in the Zohar, the foundational kabbalistic text. “His commentary on the Zohar earned him fame, and his teachings inspired a generation of devoted students whose thoughts remain influential today,” the younger Marrache said of his ancestor.

Morocco’s Jewish community dates back to antiquity. By 1948, there were about 270,000 Jews living there. That number plummeted to an estimated 2,300 Jews as of 2015. Experts are still piecing together the fractured memories left behind, and the fact that many of the tombs, which line the slopes of Mount Dersa, lack inscriptions compounds the erasure of prior Jewish communities.

Read more at JNS

More about: Jewish cemeteries, Moroccan Jewry, Rabbis

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus