Take a look at the magnificent dresses worn by the Jewish women of Morocco for their pre-wedding Henna ceremony.
More often than not, many if not all of these dresses are handed down from mothers to daughters often for generations.
JEWISH WEDDINGS IN MOROCCO 1930 – 1960 (Photos in modern wedding gowns)
Jews of Morocco represent a remnant of an ancient, thriving community which numbered over a quarter of a million in 1956. The largest community is in Casablanca, home to 2,000 Jews. There are small Jewish communities in Rabat (400), Marrakesh (250), Meknes (250), Tangier (150), Fez (150), and Tetuan (100). The Jews are generally descended from three different communities: Sephardim, Berber Jews, and Ashkenazim.
History: The Jewish community of present-day Morocco dates back more than 2,000 years. There were Jewish colonies in the country before it became a Roman province. Under the Romans, the Jews enjoyed civic equality. In 429 the Vandal King Genserich conquered North Africa. In the 7th century many Jews fled Visgothic Spain and introduced modern culture, industry and commerce. Several Berber tribes adopted Judaism and controlled a vast area, but they were eventually subdued by Arab invaders. The Jews lived in peace until the 11th century.
In a 1033 pogrom in Fez thousands of Jews were murdered and the women were dragged off into slavery. When the liberal Almoravids came to power in 1062, conditions for Jews improved, but when the Almohades took over in the middle of the 12th century Jews were forced to embrace Islam or emigrate. It was during that time that Jews were forced to wear a particular costume, a precursor of the Jewish badge. After the ouster of the Almohades in the 14th century the situation for Jews stabilized.
In 1391 a wave of Jewish refugees expelled from Spain brought new life to the community, as did new arrivals from Spain and Portugal in 1492 and 1497. From 1438, the Jews of Fez were forced to live in special quarters called mellahs, a name derived from the Arabic word for salt because the Jews in Morocco were forced to carry out the job of salting the heads of executed prisoners prior to their public display.
Under Moslem rule Jews had the status of dhimmi, protected vassals. The condition of the Jews did not improve until the establishment of the French Protectorate in 1912, when they were given equality and religious autonomy. However, although their situation was endangered during World War II when France was ruled by the antisemitic Vichy government, King Muhammed V prevented their deportation. By 1948 there were some 270,000 Jews in Morocco.In the face of a prevailing atmosphere of uncertainty and grinding poverty, many Jews elected to leave for Israel, France, the US and Canada. When Morocco gained independence in 1956, Jews became Moroccan citizens and were given equal rights and freedom of movement. However, legislation restricted their right to emigrate. Largely thanks to intervention by the WJC, the government allowed Moroccan Jews to leave. In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, the conditions worsened and many middle-class Jews emigrated.
Community: The major Jewish organization representing the community is the Conseil des Communautes Israelites in Casablanca. Its functions include external relations, general communal affairs, communal heritage, finance, maintenance of holy places, youth activities, and cultural and religious life. There are also regional committees which deal with the religious and social welfare needs of the community. The welfare organization in Casablanca is responsible for medical aid to the needy and hot meals for underprivileged Jewish pupils.
Photos of brides in traditional wedding dresses (al kassoua el kebira)
Old pictures of the Moroccan Jews, wedding celebrations and daily life, reflecting multiculturalism in Morocco.
The story of the Solika Saint, marriages and saints.
Lior Elmaliah sings wedding blessings at Kobi Oz wedding. A fusion of Jewish, Moroccan, Andalusian style. Touching.
The application of henna, a reddish natural conditioner, to parts of the body is done for beauty as well as a good luck ritual. Henna rituals preceded bar mitsvahs and weddings, among other celebrations. It is a time of joy and celebration.
Henna celebration in Israel A Yafa Levy project
The night of the bride party, a celebration of the bride in the Jewish Moroccan tradition. The bride and her guests are anointed with henna, believed to offer protection from harm, a vestige of an ancient belief in the existence of underworld creatures which aim to snatch brides shortly before their wedding night.
A henna celebration in Haifa, Israel
A private henna party precceding the wedding (March 25, 2007). Everyone had a blast.
Almagribi Sammy (Salomon Amzalag) sings I shall never forget you (amri ma nensak) accompanied by the Andalusian Ensemble. Singer Sammy Almagribi
Biton Cohen Zohara of Beni Melal, Morocco, Lives now in Israel. She sings, improvises and recalls sayings she sang to celebrate family occasions.Arabic, Hebrew, English Part I
Arabic, Hebrew, English Part II
Arabic, Hebrew, English Part III
Arabic, Hebrew, English Part IV
Arabic, Hebrew, English Part V
Arabic, Hebrew, English Part VI
Arabic, Hebrew, English Part VIII
Rabbi Yaacov HaCohen the Just, Arabic, Hebrew, English
Music Film written and directed by Asher Tlalim
The beauty of the music of the Moroccan Jews is its unique blend of Hebrew texts set to tunes borrowed from their Arab neighbors. This video was filmed on-location in Morocco and Israel in order to present the full flavor, feeling, and character of the poetry, messianic songs, and tunes that provide the foundation for authentic Moroccan Jewish music. Also featured in this unique musical extravaganza are Shlomo Bar and the Habrera Hativit Ensemble. ~ Kathryn Tamms, All Movie Guide
Adone haselihot – A Day of Atonement chant or piyut
Sung by Avihu Medina, accompanied by a choir and an orchestra, photos of Jewish Moroccan scenes in the background
Kol Nidre – A Day of Atonement chant or piyut
Eyal Bitton sings the beautiful & ancient Moroccan version of KOL NIDREI in a modern style. This haunting oath is sung on Yom Kippur by Jewish communities worldwide – Sephardi & Ashkenazi. Kol Nidré – version marocaine. Prière chantée la veille de Kippour. Harmonisation pour hazzan et chorale par soliste Eyal Bitton.
Rosh hashanna-New Year’ s Piyut: Amonay Chama’ti..
Beautiful, pleading Sephardic High Holiday piyut recited on Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur before Amidah.
Tradtional Moroccan melody sung by Eyal Bitton.
Piyout sepharade chanté à Roche Hachana & Yom Kippour avant l’Amida. Air marocain. Soliste: Eyal Bitton.
Piyut or sacred chanting
Leon Azancot, a wonderful 80 year old Tangerine Jew (he should live to 120), sang some piyyutim in Hebrew and explained them in Spanish at his insurance office over the Socco Grande (entrance to the souk) in Tangier, Morocco. Video by Vanessa Paloma
Sung by Francoise Atlan during the Fes Festival of Sacred world music, in Morocco. You can buy the CD on Amazon!
The song is called The Golden ladder and it is a traditional wedding song. Slideshow of beautiful Jewish Sephardic and Moroccan women and places. Note that not all women are jewish. Lyrics are posted on YouTube.
Wedding music Ariel Oziel sings a wedding song with Koby Chai
The first song is Nani Nani a jewish sephardic lullaby,
the second song is Tsour Michela both sung by Francoise Atlan.
The other songs is a form of Gharnati music, mixed with jewish, arabic and gitano music and flamenco dance.
Andalusia, Andalusian, Andalus Arabic, Spanish, Jewish Music. Moroccan oudist Tarik Banzi improvises a solo.
He is the artistic director of Al-Andalus.
(www.Andalus.com) and oud & flamenco guitar …
A composition of Felix Even Haim to Sason Zanani poem of love to Israel, an inter-cultural collaboration reflecting Israeli multi-culturalism.
An Israeli Moroccan singer, Lior Elmaliah, sings Albinoni in Moroccan Arabic, directed by David Kribousheh, April 2009. Beautiful.
Israeli Moroccan singers, Lior Elmaliah and Simon Siboni, sing ‘L’elisir d’ amore’ , directed by David Kribousheh, April 2009. Beautiful.
Lior Elmaliah sings a string of songs Jewish Moroccan style.
A moving tale of the illicit immigration of Jews from Morocco to Israel. It could be my own tale. except that people did not take suitcases, we left empty handed! L histoire de l immigration des juifs du Maroc dans ce film est tres vraie. C est la facon que j ai quitte le Maroc moi aussi, mais sans valises!!!
Secret departures from Morocco to Israel
Immigration to Israel and underground Zionist activities in Morocco
The American Jewish Committee (the Joint) point of view
Immigration of Moroccan Jews to Canada
Vision personnelle d’un cinéaste, ce documentaire traite des juifs nord-africains forcés de quitter leurs pays dans les années 1950.
Le réalisateur y relève leurs difficultés d’adaptation au sein de la communauté juive anglophone et d’un Québec en pleine évolution
The forgotten refugees – One million Jews had to leave Arab lands as refugees. They rehabilitated themselves in Israel and elsewhere. They set an example to others whose ‘eternal refugee status’ prevents them from self rehabilitation and raises the probability of war and instability in the world all around.