Jewish Heritage Expeditions

EXPLORING YOUR JEWISH ROOTS

Morocco

The first Jews migrated to Morocco after the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem and settled among the Berbers. They were later met by a second wave of migration from the Iberian peninsula in the period immediately preceding and following the 1492 expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal. This second immigration wave deeply modified Moroccan Jewry, causing them to largely embrace the Andalusian Sephardic liturgy, giving the Moroccan Jews a mostly Sephardic identity.

Following the establishment of the State of Israel, between 1961 and 1964 most Moroccan Jews emigrated to Israel.

Until the 1950s the majority of Morocco's Jews were still living in Morocco. In accordance with the norms of Islamic legal system, Jewish Moroccans had separate legal courts pertaining to "personal law" under which communities (Muslim sharia, Christian Canon law and Jewish halacha law abiding) were allowed to rule themselves under their own system.

As a protectorate of France, parts of Morocco were heavily influenced by French culture, while the same is true of the portions of the country that belonged to Spain. Traditionally, the Jews were classified as being French-Moroccan or Spanish-Moroccan depending on where in Morocco they lived, and remnants of these classifications can be felt today. These differences are reflected in language, foods, last names and even liturgy. Even before the arrival of Sephardi Jews to Morocco, Moroccan Jews performed and developed the traditions of the Andalusian classical music and introduced it into their liturgical music.



A famous Moroccan-Jewish tradition is the ‘Henna ceremony’, which usually takes place within the week before a special occasion, such as a wedding or Bar and Bat Mitzvah. During pre-wedding Henna ceremonies, the Matriarch of the family smudges henna in the palm of the bride and groom to symbolically bestow the new couple with good health, fertility, wisdom, and security. Henna is believed in Moroccan tradition to protect the couple from demons. Another well known Jewish tradition is the Mimouna, celebrated by many Moroccan Jews on the night following the last day of Passover. It has spread to be an almost national holiday in Israel.

At its peak in the 1940s, Morocco's Jewish population exceeded 250,000, but after Israel's independence in 1948, the next several decades saw waves of Jewish emigration to Israel, France and Canada. By the time of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the majority of Morocco's Jewish population had emigrated. Today, a small community of around 2,000 Jews live in Morocco. However, most of the Moroccan Jewish Heritage sites remain intact and can be visited. Welcome to the magic world of ancient Moroccan Judaism!

Jewish Morocco Itinerary

Sunday - Casablanca

  • We will pick you up from Casablanca International Airport
  • Welcome dinner

Overnight: Casablanca


Monday - Casablanca

  •  Orientation Leisurely drive through Casablanca by private bus
  • Walking tour of the old market (the ‘medina’) with its labyrinth of narrow streets lined with jewelers, barbers and artisans including the ‘Mellah’, the Jewish quarter of Casablanca.We also visit the Jewish cemetery with its special atmosphere and its well-kept white stone markers
  • Visit to the Museum of the Jews of Morocco, the first of its kind in the Arab world
  • Visit to the Beth-El Synagogue, the center of a once vibrant Jewish community
  • Lunch at a local kosher restaurant with Moroccan specialities
  • Visit to Casablanca’s Jewish Club: meet with the local community
  • Tour of the famous Mosque of Hassan II, the third largest mosque in the world with room for 25,000 worshippers
  • Dinner at a special location

Overnight: Casablanca


Tuesday - Volubilis, Fes

  • Breakfast in hotel
  • Check out and depart the hotel
  • Tour of the ruins of Volubilis, an important outpost of the Roman Empire
  • Lunch en route
  • Arrival in Fes and hotel check in
  • Walking tour through the Mellah, the Jewish Quarter
  • Visit to the Ibn Danan Synagogue
  • Visit to the famous Fes Jewish cemetery, where some of the city's legendary rabbis are buried
  • Leisurely bus tour and  panoramic view of the old city of  Fes

Overnight: Fes


Wednesday - Fes

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Walking tour through the Medina  (old city), where the famous Jewish scholar Maimonides once lived, including the Tanneries, the Potter’s Quarter and the Merenids tombs
  • Visit to Madrasa Bou Inania, founded in 1351
  • Workshop with local craftsman; weaving and embroidery or other crafts
  • Lunch at a kosher restaurant
  • Visit to the Museum of Wooden Arts
  • Visit to the University of Al-Karaouine, the oldest continuously operating, academic degree-granting university in the world
  • Dinner at a kosher restaurant

Overnight: Fes




Thursday - Meknes, Rabat

  • Breakfast at hotel, check out
  • Arrival in Meknes and visit the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail (1672-1727)
  • Visit to the Royal Stables
  • Visit to the old Mellah (Jewish quarter), the synagogue and the 700-year-old Jewish cemetery
  • Lunch en route to Rabat
  • Rabat city tour, including a walk around the walls of the Royal Palace, visit to the Mausoleums of Mohammad V and Hassan II, and the marvelous Kasbah des Oudayas.
  • Dinner at hotel

Overnight: Rabat


Friday - Marrakech

  • Breakfast at hotel and check out
  • Drive to Marrakech
  • Lunch en route to Marrakech
  • Orientation bus tour of Marrakech 
  • Walking tour to Bab Agnaou, the Saadian Tombs, the Slat el Azama Synagogue and the 19th-century Bahia Palace
  • Check into the hotel with time to prepare for Shabbat
  • Shabbat services at the Bet-El Synagogue
  • Shabbat dinner with the local Jewish community

Overnight: Marrakech


Shabbat

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Shabbat morning service at the Lazama Synagogue
  • Shabbat lunch
  • Walking tour of the old city Medina and the Mellah, including the Djemaa El Fna Square, with its street vendors, musicians and jugglers
  • Story telling by a local story teller
  • Dinner at hotel

The program on Shabbat is appropriate for participants with any level of Shabbat observance. Please contact us with any questions.

Overnight: Marrakech


Sunday - Ourika Valley, Marrakech

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Departure from Marrakech and drive to the Ourika Valley
  • Walking tour in the green Ourika valley and visit to a Berber village
  • Back to Marrakech for our farewell dinner

Overnight: Marrakech


Monday - Marrakech, Casablanca

  • Breakfast and check out at hotel
  • Drive to Casablanca airport

The above itinerary is an sample program. If you are interested in a custom made Jewish heritage tour to Morocco for your community, family or other group we can design a special itinerary for you. Contact us for more information.


Price includes:

  • Eight nights Deluxe room at the four/ five-star hotel . During your stay you’ll have free WiFi.
  • Entrance fees for all activities listed in the itinerary (including most optional activities)
  • Comfortable air-conditioned touring coach
  • Kosher full board. Lunch consist of sandwiches on some of the travel days or full sit down lunch meals. 
  • Professional, experienced English-speaking guide and expert local guides
  • Pre-trip study program

Please send me the brochure with the full itinerary of the Jewish Morocco Tour