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20 September 2010

The Jews of Morocco

The Jewish community of Morocco was at one time a thriving prosperous group. Today, the population has dropped from over a quarter of a million people as recently as the 1950's, to a group closer to 5000 in size. Today, the largest community is in Casablanca.
The Jewish community dates back over 2000 years, which Jewish colonies in Morocco even before it became a Roman Empire. Under the Romans, the Jews of Morocco enjoyed being treated as equals. Other important times in the history of the Jews of Morocco:

  • In the 7th century, many Jews fleeing Spain, settled in Morocco and brought with them a modern life.
  • Jews lived in peace until 1033, when thousands of Jews were murdered in Fez, and the women were taken into slavery.
  • In 1066 the Almohades came to power and conditions improved for the Jews community.
  • In 1391 Jewish refugees arrived from Spain and brought strength to the community. This continued between 1492 and 1497 when people arrived from Spain and Portugal.
  • Beginning in 1438, the Jews were forced to live in special quarters, called mellahs.
  • The condition of the Jews only started to improve with the election of a French Protectorate in 1912. At this time they were given equality and religious autonomy.
  • In 1948 there were about 270,000 Jews in Morocco. However as times became more uncertain, many emigrated to places such as Israel, United States and France. Today the ancient community may not have the same numbers but hopefully the heritage is still alive.

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