Sign thanking the communities of Meknes and Casablanca for their contributions to the
rehabilitation of the two Jewish cemeteries of Meknes, facilitating the hiloula (pilgrimage)  to the tomb of the Saint Rabbi Chimhon Ben Yohai.

   Ancient Jewish Face
Courtesy of Viva (Suzy Arama)
  Meknes, the city of Moulay Ishmael, is one of the only cities in Morocco where the mellah does not adjoin the royal palace. It is also the only city where Jews decided to create a new mellah after the French Protectorate was installed. The European city houses several synagogues as well as a community center. The new mellah is still the home for some of Meknes's 200 Jews, and one can visit a beautiful synagogue, the El Krief, nearby the new cemetery. On the other side of the new mellah and adjoining the old mellah is the old Jewish cemetery. Several saints are found in the two cemeteries, including Haim Messas, David Boussidan, and Raphael Berdugo. In the Royal city of Meknes, the tomb of Moulay Ishmael memorializes the Alaouite Sultan who protected the Jews while securing control of the Moroccan empire.

North of Meknes is Volubilis, a well-preserved Roman city, where archaeologists found the first traces of Jewish settlement in Morocco. The near-by town of Moulay Idriss contains a mausoleum commemorating the founder of the first Muslim state in Morocco, Idriss I, who oppressed the Jews, forcing many of them to convert. Further North is Ouezzane, a town controlled by an important Muslim fraternity who encouraged Jewish traders and agriculturists to live near-by. East of Ouezzane is the village of Azjen, where the tomb of the most important Jewish saint, Amram Ben Diwane, is found. The Lag B'Omer pilgrimages to his grave attract hundreds of Jews from both inside and beyond Morocco.                                

Celebrating the Hiloula of Saint Rabbi
Amram Ben Diwane.


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