Casablanca Museum Offers Insight into Moroccan Judaism
Founded in 1997 by the Jewish community of Casablanca, and managed by the Foundation of Moroccan Judaism, the Museum of Moroccan Judaism of Casablanca recently reopened following renovations. Housed in a spectacular villa set in the midst of well-tended gardens, the museum is located in the Oasis suburb of the city. The reopening ceremony held in April 2013 was presided over by the museum’s president Jaques Toledano and attended by a number of Moroccan government officials as well the United States ambassador to Morocco, Samuel Kaplan, who had previously held the post of president of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation.
The dozens of guests attending the re-opening of the museum had the opportunity of viewing the more than 1,500 items on display, which include photographs, most notably of synagogues in various Moroccan localities, along with Torah scrolls, Chanukah lamps, beautifully embroidered Moroccan caftans, hand-crafted rugs and a wide variety of other ceremonial items representing Jewish-Moroccan cultural heritage. As the only Jewish museum located in an Islamic country, the museum also documents the history of the Jewish community within Morocco with an extensive document, film and photo library.
Prior to the founding of Israel in 1948 there were more than 250,000 Jews in Morocco. Amidst riots in Oujda and Djerada in which 44 Jews were killed, large numbers left the country for Israel. Over the ensuing years the Jewish population continued to dwindle. Today there are around 3,000 Jews in Morocco, the majority of whom live in Casablanca, Fez and Morocco’s other larger cities. The Jewish community in Morocco continues to be prominent in business and culture. It is notable that the State of Israel is reportedly home to close to a million Jews of Moroccan descent.
Visitors to the Museum of Moroccan Judaism in Casablanca will gain fascinating insight into the lives of the Jewish people who once called this North African country home, as well as those who still do.