Morocco Boasts 'Spiritual Diversity' at Synagogue Renewal


King Mohammed hailed the "spiritual wealth and diversity" of Morocco at a ceremony on Wednesday to mark the end of the restoration of a 17th century synagogue in the city of Fez.

The ceremony was held in the medina, the Old City, of Fez, a UNESCO world heritage site, before more than 200 people including the country's Islamist prime minister and German parliament speaker Norbert Lammert.

Germany part-financed the 160,00-euro ($215,000) work.

The two-year restoration of Slat Alfassiyine synagogue bore "eloquent testimony to the spiritual wealth and diversity of the Kingdom of Morocco and its heritage," Mohammed said in a message read by Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane.

"The secular traditions of Moroccan civilization drew their essence from the fact that Moroccans are deeply ingrained with the values of coexistence, tolerance and harmony between the different components of the nation," the king said.

The new constitution adopted in 2011 against the background of the Arab Spring, recognized its Jewish heritage as part of Morocco's national identity, he said, calling for the renovation of all Jewish place of worship in the country.

Among other speakers was Serge Berdugo, a Jewish former Moroccan minister.

Morocco historically had a vibrant Jewish population and 1,200 of the faith's pious ancestors are buried in cemeteries across the North African country, which was home to a community of almost 250,000 in the first half of the 20th century.

The Jews of Morocco are now estimated to number less than 3,000.

In 1900, Fez, then the imperial capital, had 10,000 Jews out of a population of 100,000 and 20 synagogues, according to Simon Levy, a specialist on Judaism in Morocco. The city lies 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Rabat.

Comments 4
Missing allouchi 14 February 2013, 19:32

good move...we should do the same in Lebanon..

Default-user-icon Norma (Guest) 16 February 2013, 17:14

I agree and hope so.

Default-user-icon Ahuva (Guest) 15 February 2013, 11:25

Maybe we should teach the King of Morocco , commander of the faithful, the definition of the word "Knesset" a place of gathering, an assembly
A Knesset without prayers, without singings without soul is not a knesset but a cimetery or an empty building , a useless building.

Default-user-icon Abdellah A. Regragui (Guest) 19 February 2013, 12:07

Germany paid in part, Morocco paid in part. Morocco had no part in the Shoah. Morocco protected its Jewish population from the Nazis and their puppet Vichy regime. We would welcome our Jewish brethren with open arms should they decide to move back to Morocco. I wish this article were a little more positive. Suffice to see how many Moroccan Jews come on pilgrimage every year to understand that they feel no animosity towards their homeland. Respect is due to Jews of all extractions, Askhenazi or Sephardic.