Weddings

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *