Moroccan Jewish Museum

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Moroccan Jewish Museum, Casablanca Morocco
Display of artifacts at the museum

The Museum of Moroccan Judaism, or El Mellah Museum, is a Jewish museum in Casablanca, Morocco.[1] Established in 1997, it is the only museum devoted to Judaism in the Arab world.[2] The museum, whose building originated in 1948 as a Jewish orphanage that housed up to 160 Jewish youth, was renovated in 2013.[3]

The museum was founded by Simon Levy, a former professor at the University of Rabat and founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of Moroccan Jewish Culture. Prior to his role in preserving Moroccan Jewish Culture, Levy (1934 – 2011) was known as an independence and human rights activist from the time of colonialism through the reign of King Hassan II.[4]

Within the museum, visitors can find artifacts of Moroccan Jewry, including the bimah (c. 1944) from the Beni-Issakhar Synagogue in Casablanca, mezuzahs, and Hanukiah menorah.[5] The museum also touts a considerable collection of Berber history, including costumes, jewelry, and Fatima pendants. Visitors can also observe a reconstructed jewelry-making shop, which was created using the workbench and tools of Moroccan Jew, Saul Cohen.[6] One of the most notable additions, however, is the incorporation of the preamble of Morocco’s updated 2011 constitution, which cites Hebraic influences as a pillar of national unity. Current museum director, Zhor Rehihil, was quoted declaring that, “the new constitution emphasizes both ethnic and religious pluralism in Morocco.”[7]

The building itself, which covers 700 square meters, consists of a large multipurpose room and three other exhibit rooms. The multipurpose room is known for displays of art from Jewish Moroccans, including paintings, photographs, and sculptures. The exhibit rooms contains artifacts focused on religious and family life, in addition to recreation of Moroccan synagogues.[3]

Moroccan Jews constitute an ancient community. Before the founding of Israel in 1948, there were about 250,000 to 350,000 Jews in the country, which gave Morocco the largest Jewish community in the Muslim world, but fewer than 2,500 or so remain today.

It was rededicated by King Mohammed VI of Morocco on December 20, 2016 after it was restored.[1] In addition to King Mohammed VI and Moroccan government officials, the re-dedication was attended by Samuel L. Kaplan, the US ambassador to Morocco, and museum President Jaques Toledano.[8]

In January 2019, French Moroccan opera singer David Serero donated a large part of his Moroccan Judaica art collection, making it the largest donation of judaica artifacts ever donated to a Moroccan museum.[9][10]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Morocco's king attends rededication of Casablanca synagogue and Jewish museum". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  2. ^ http://www.lepoint.fr/culture/a-casablanca-le-seul-musee-du-judaisme-du-monde-arabe-03-02-2011-135436_3.php
  3. ^ a b "Discover Morocco's Jewish Heritage and the Splendor of its Cities - Jewish Voice". thejewishvoice.com. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  4. ^ Gershovich, Dr. Moshe. "In Search of Morocco's Lost Jewish Heritage". Smithsonian Journeys. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  5. ^ "A pilgrimage to Morocco's (mostly) Jewish past". New Jersey Jewish News | NJJN. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  6. ^ "Jewish heritage preserved in Casablanca museum | Saad Guerraoui | AW". AW. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  7. ^ "Jewish heritage preserved in Casablanca museum | Saad Guerraoui | AW". AW. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  8. ^ "Casablanca Jewish museum reopened after renovations". Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  9. ^ https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/the-jewish-museum-of-morocco-in-casablanca-receives-the-largest-donation-of-moroccan-judaica-artifacts-donated-by-opera-singer-david-serero-2019-04-17
  10. ^ https://fr.timesofisrael.com/le-musee-du-judaisme-de-casablanca-recoit-sa-plus-grande-donation-dart-judaica/

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Coordinates: 33°33′21″N 7°38′33″W / 33.5557°N 7.6424°W / 33.5557; -7.6424