Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Cemeteries’

Discovering Tangier’s Jewish Heritage Sites

Tuesday, December 5th, 2023

Tangier, a city located at the northern tip of Morocco, is a captivating fusion of North African, Spanish, Portuguese, and French influences, making it a true crossroads of cultures with a rich Jewish heritage. Tangier sits at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel. The city’s unique position has shaped its history, architecture, and cultural tapestry, attracting visitors from around the world. Tangier’s location has played a pivotal role in shaping its identity.

As the capital of the Tétouan Region it has a rich Jewish history due to the historical presence of many civilizations and cultures that conquered this area from the 5th century BC.  It has been a melting pot of diverse cultural influences. This fusion is evident in the city’s architecture, cuisine, and traditions, creating a rich tapestry of experiences for visitors and in particular for those seeking to explore Morocco’s Jewish Heritage sites and Sephardic traditions.

The Rich Tapestry of Tangier’s Jewish Heritage Sites

Referred to as the “White Bride of the North,” Tangier is home to a rich tapestry of Jewish Heritage Sites that offer a glimpse into a historically vibrant Jewish community that once thrived there. On a Private, Guided Tangier Jewish Tour, our expert guides will unveil the hidden stories of the Jews dating back to the Temple of Solomon along with showcasing Tangiers synagogues, cemeteries and a new Jewish Museum .

The first Jews migrated to Tangier (once known as Tanja or Tingus) after the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem and settled among the Berbers. Jews of Tangier were later met by a second wave of migration from the Jews living in the Iberian Peninsula during the 1492 Alhambra Decree. During this time the Jews were expelled Spain and Portugal. This second wave of immigration changed Moroccan jewry, as they largely embraced the Andalusian Sephardic liturgy, creating a population of Moroccan Jews that gained a primarily Sephardic identity.

Jews Crossing by Boat into Tangier 1492

August 1 on the Gregorian calendar, which aligns with the 9th day of Av 5777 on the Hebrew calendar, holds profound significance in Jewish and world history. It was on this day in 1492 that the Alhambra Decree was issued by the Spanish Monarchs, resulting in the expulsion of the Jewish population from Spain. This edict not only altered the course of Jewish history but also had far-reaching implications on a global scale.

The issuance of the Alhambra Decree in 1492 marked a pivotal and heart-wrenching juncture for the Jewish community. This cruel and unjust decree forced thousands of Jews to leave their homes, abandon their possessions, and seek refuge in unfamiliar lands. The expulsion led to immense suffering, dispersal, and the loss of cultural and religious heritage. The expulsion of the Jews from Spain also reverberated throughout the world. It resulted in the dissemination of Jewish communities to various parts of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. This dispersion gave rise to new cultural exchanges, influenced artistic and intellectual movements, and contributed to the rich tapestry of global history and civilization.

The Moors and the Jews intermixed in Tangier, living peacefully side by side. In 1856, Tangier had become the largest port in Morocco. Alongside, the Jewish community of Tangier flourished and established schools, hospitals, charitable works and businesses. By 1925 Jews were assigned three out of the twenty-six seats on the Legislative Assembly offering them significant political power. Post World War II the Jews of Tangier enjoyed a prosperous and cosmopolitan lives as they were not affected by the war and offered protection by Mohammed V who referred to them as “Moroccans and not only Jews.” At its peak in the 1940s, there were 22,000 Jews in Tangier and Morocco’s Jewish population exceeded 350 000. Today, there is a vibrant community in Morocco which counts approximately 2000 – 2500 Jews.

Historic-Jewish- Tangier-Morocco-Travel-Blog
Historic Jewish Quarter, Tangier

Delving into Tangier’s Jewish Quarter: A Living Legacy

Tangier did not have a formal Jewish Mellah similar to those in Casablanca, Fes, Marrakech and Essaouira, it did have a Jewish Quarter. Embarking on a journey through Tangier’s Jewish quarter is akin to entering a time capsule that preserves the essence of a bygone era. As you navigate the labyrinthine streets, you are enveloped by the enduring spirit of a community that has left an indelible mark on the city’s cultural fabric. The Jewish quarter, with its ornate synagogues, quaint alleyways, and bustling marketplaces, beckons visitors to immerse themselves in a captivating narrative of resilience and cultural tenacity.

Tangier-Moshe- Nahon-Synagogue-Morocco
Moshe Nahon Synagogue, Tangier

The Moshe Nahon Synagogue of Tangier: A Testament to Faith and Resilience

At the heart of Tangier’s Jewish heritage lies the Moshe Nahon Synagogue, an intimate, architectural marvel that stands as a testament to the enduring faith and resilience of the community. The soaring ceilings, glass lamps and motifs adorning the synagogue’s interior transport visitors to a realm of timeless beauty and profound spiritual significance. As you stand within the hallowed halls of this sacred edifice, you are enveloped by a sense of reverence and awe, attesting to the enduring legacy of Tangier’s Jewish heritage.

Behind a non descript door, located on Rue Synagogue in Tangier is the Moshe Nahon Synagogue. This last remaining operating synagogue in Tangier is monumental and lavish, ranking among one of the most beautiful synagogues in Morocco. Built in the 1870’s the Nahon Synagogue remained as a working place for Jewish prayer until it fell into despair in the lat 20th Century. Then in 1994 it was renovated revealing intricately covered carvings that are illuminated by magical hanging synagogue lamps and Jewish artifacts. At one time there were over 20 synagogues in Tangier. On Rue des Synagogues, there are many closed synagogues. One of them, Temple Benatar, has been restored and is superbly decorated.

Char Rafael Synagogue, Tangier

The Char Rafael Synagogue of Tangier: One of the Last Surviving Synagogues

Chaar Rafael is one of the last surviving synagogues and remnants of Jewish Heritage in Tangier. Located on 27 Boulevard Pasteur in Tangier this Jewish owned villa was built in 1919, and it was converted to a synagogue in 1954 when the owner, Raphaël Bendriahm died. Located in the center of the European city, Chaar Rafael is nearby the ocean cliffs where the stone outlines of the tombs of the Phoenicians, who came with Jews to Tangier almost three thousand years ago.

Beit Hahayim Jewish Cemetery, Tangier

Beit Hahayim – Tangier Jewish Cemetery:

The Jewish Cemetery in Tangier, referred to as the “old cemetery” has more then one-thousand graves, some of which date back to the 16th Century. There are many important individuals buried there. Owned by the Tangier municipality, the Jewish Cemetery is open to the public and has caretakers who oversee it. While the cemetery has somewhat fallen to ruins with a combination of erosion and water issues, the tombstones have been digitized to offer those interested the opportunity to search the remains there online. The tombstones are in Hebrew, Portuguese and French.

Abraham-Toledano- Synagogue-Tangier
Abraham Toledano Synagogue, Tangier

Avraham Toledano Synagogue

Built in the 19th Century, the synagogue is named after Abraham Toledo who was a prominent  member of the Tangier Jewish community. Referred to a the “Great Synagogue” Known for its beautiful hand carved woodwork and ornamentation, this synagogue is one of the oldest yet no longer in use.

Beit Yehuda, Jewish Museum, Tangier

Preserving History, Tangier Jewish Museum Collections

Beit Yehuda Tangier Jewish Museum (Assayag Synagogue):

Built in the 19th Century, the synagogue is named after Abraham Toledo who was a prominent  member of the Tangier Jewish community. Referred to a the “Great Synagogue” Known for its beautiful hand carved woodwork and ornamentation, this synagogue is one of the oldest yet no longer in use.

American Legation Museum, Berber Jewish Artifacts, Tangier

American Legation Museum:

The American Legation Museum is located in a five story villa in Tangier and is oldest American consulate in continuous use. Since 1829/ 1923 when Tangier was established as an International city, there were many Moroccan Jews that served as American proteges, placing them beyond the law of the Sultan.  A private collection of Berber/Jewish history and bridal gowns/dresses. The American Legation in Tangier is the only US Historic Monument located outside American soil. It hosts the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM). TALIM includes, among others, a private museum, a research library accessible by appointment only, and a community Arabic Literacy Program.

For more information:

To Book a Tangier Jewish Heritage Tour, contact the Travel Exploration Morocco 

Morocco Jewish Heritage Tours, Remarkable Sites to Visit

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Iban Danan Synagogue, Fes

Iban Danan Synagogue, Fes

Morocco is steeped in Jewish Heritage and Culture. The country has a remarkable history of Jewish life that sets it apart from other Muslim nations. If you are Jewish and interested in touring Morocco you are guaranteed to discover ancient traditions and old-world customs that have permeated Moroccan Jewish society for centuries. Morocco’s key Jewish Heritage sites are located throughout the country’s Imperial Cities and rural regions. The sheer number of Jewish sites is staggering.

“ Moroccan society is partly built on Jewish culture, a culture deeply rooted in three millennia of history,” André Azoulay, Senior Adviser to King Mohammed VI of Morocco

As a Jewish traveler, you can explore synagogues, cemeteries, holy zaouias, monuments, and historic homes. Morocco’s most remarkable places and historical sites are centered around the Jewish Mellah in Casablanca, Tangier, Fes, Marrakech, and Essaouira. The countryside offers additional fascinating Jewish sites of pilgrimage that are frequented by Israeli’s in particular and Moroccan Jews living abroad. They come to visit holy zaouias of celebrated former Rabbi’s (Saints) who were once honored by their local communities.

Morocco also has an intimate Jewish community with strong ties, connecting with them is part of enriching the travel experience. The largest Jewish community that is thriving today is in Casablanca.  Over 3,000 Casablanca Jews live outside the Mellah in the European city, where they worship in over 30 synagogues, eat in kosher restaurants, entertain themselves in community centers, and attend Jewish schools and social service centers. They worship at Temple Beth El, the largest synagogue and an important community center. There is a smaller, yet lively, Jewish community in Fes and Marrakech. Sharing a traditional Sephardic meal on Shabbat at the Kosher Club in Casablanca, or a Kosher restaurant in Fes or Marrakech will offer a glimpse into Jewish life today.

Each of Morocco’s Jewish quarters (Mellah) is comprised of historic Jewish architecture and monuments. The Mellah is home to synagogues and cemeteries surrounded by local markets and city life. Today the Moroccan Mellah is inhabited primarily by Muslim families who relocated there when Jews migrated to Israel in 1948. The Jews who left Morocco did so in hope of a more prosperous life and to be surrounded by their brethren after World War II.  Jewish sites in Morocco are protected by the Moroccan Kingdom and open daily for visitors.

Miaara Jewish Cemetery, Fes

Miaara Jewish Cemetery, Fes

Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour: Remarkable Places & Sites to Visit:

• Temple Beth- El, Casablanca
• Museum of Moroccan Judaism, Casablanca
• Ibn Danan Synagogue & Jewish Mellah, Fes
• Jewish Cemetery & Tomb of Solica, Fes
• Maimonides Home, Fes
• Jewish Mellah, Cemetery & Lazama Synagogue, Marrakech
• New Jewish Synagogue, Ville Nouvelle Marrakech
• Jewish Mellah, Cemetery & Miaara Cemetery, Marrakech
• Chaim Pinto Synagogue,  Essaouira
• Jewish Mellah, Cemetery & Zaouia’s Sahara Desert Region

Jewish Mellah, Marrakech Spice Market

Jewish Mellah, Marrakech Spice Market

Visiting Morocco offers a rare glimpse into peaceful Jewish-Muslim coexistence.

Jewish culture has been interwoven throughout Morocco for centuries. It is believed that Jews settled in Morocco prior to the destruction of the First Temple Mount. A Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour provides an in-depth exploration of Jewish culture and its vast history from the time of the Philistines to the 21st Century.

Touring Morocco and its historic Jewish Heritage Sites is something every Jew should consider.

Touring Morocco and its historic Jewish Heritage Sites is something every Jew should consider. Morocco’s unique history of Jewry and the co-mingling of Jews with Berbers and Arabs is what makes the country safe to visit and an icon of peace for the entire Muslim world. The climate and culture of Morocco with its keen mix of Jewish, Berber, and Arab traditions, UNESCO Heritage sites and cities, a magnificent coast, Moorish architecture, glorious markets, and food tourism make it an ideal vacation destination.

Should you embark on a private, guided Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour, you can anticipate hearing Stories of the Mellah, learning about Morocco’s Sephardic Jewish traditions, and discovering the hidden jewels of Morocco’s Jewish past.  With the only Jewish Museum in the Islamic world and history of religious tolerance, visiting Morocco offers a rare glimpse into peaceful Jewish-Muslim coexistence.

Heritage Tours, History and Stories of Jewish Morocco

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Seffrou Jewish Mellah, Heritage Tours

Seffrou Jewish Mellah, Heritage Tours














Morocco is a melting pot of Islamic and Jewish culture. Heritage Tours that are composed of Morocco’s grand history tell an important story about Jewish Morocco.  Jewish Heritage Tours are comprised of a mixture of historic site seeing, shared experiences with the local community, prayer, guided visits to  ancient landmarks, Moroccan Zaouias and delving into a country and a people that are hosptiable and kind.

Morocco’s history of Jewry and the co-mingling of Jews with Berbers and Arabs are a key factor in why Morocco is ideal for Jewish Travelers today. Morocco is a country of Muslims, Jews and Christians. Jews first arrived in Morocco during pre-Christian times, accompanying the Phoenicians on their trade expeditions across the coast of Morocco. In the countryside Jewish and Berber tribes tilled the soil side by side together for two thousand years speaking the Berber dialect. In the towns and cities Jewish merchants and financiers were valued by successive Moroccan rulers who protected them.
Today, a journey through Morocco’s most private Jewish and public heritage sites offers places sacred spaces to discover that have left an indelible mark on Moroccan Jewry. Expert licensed Historical guides will impart history and information in great detail that tells a story of Moroccan Jewish culture and heritage. The history and stories of Jewish Morocco lie within the anicent cities (medinas) along with Berber rural regions. These guided story tellers are what keep those memories alive today.

Travel Exploration, Jewish Heritage Tours

Travel Exploration, Jewish Heritage Tours










Jewish Heritage Tours – The Stories of Morocco Reside Within

Casablanca Jewish Heritage Sites:

The Museum of Moroccan Judaism of Casablanca is a museum of history and ethnography, created by the Jewish Community of Casablanca in 1997 with the support of the Foundation of Jewish-Moroccan Cultural Heritage. The Jewish Museum in Casablanca is tucked into a residential neighborhood and holds a treasure trove with it being the Arab region’s only Jewish Museum. It uses world-class standards of conservation for its national and international collections. The Museum of Moroccan Judaism presents religious, ethnographic and artistic objects that demonstrate the history, religion, traditions and daily life of Jews in the context of Moroccan civilization.

Casablanca’s Jewish Cemetery: 
The Jewish cemetery in the mellah is open and quiet, with well-kept white stone markers in French, Hebrew and Spanish. Once a year, Casablancans celebrate a hiloula, or prayer festival, at the tomb of the Jewish saint, Eliahou.

Temple Beth-El: the Jewish Synagogue in Casablanca. Beth-El, is considered the center piece of a once vibrant Jewish community. Its stained glass windows and other artistic elements, is what attracts tourists to this synagogue.

The Jewish mellah of Casablanca is young by Moroccan standards, not much more than a century old. It assaults the senses in the evening, with a sea of women in brightly colored djellabahs carrying and selling fruit and vegetables throughout the cramped, narrow streets.  While Jews no longer live in the mellah, kosher butchers are found in the old market, next to other butchers selling horse meat. The Jewish cemetery in the mellah is open and quiet, with well-kept white stone markers in French, Hebrew and Spanish. Once a year, Casablancans celebrate a hiloula, or prayer festival, at the tomb of the Jewish saint, Eliahou.

Fes Jewish Heritage Sites:

The Jewish Mellah: In contrast with the young Mellah of Casablanca, the mellah of Fes is over 650 years old. This picturesque neighborhood adjoins the royal palace, noted for its recently constructed bright brass doors. Jews took shelter in this palace during the 1912 pogrom.

The Jewish Cemetery: The nearby cemetery contains the tombs of more Jewish saints than any other cemetery in Morocco. One of the more important saints is Lalla Solica, who was killed for refusing to convert to Islam.  This woman was born in Tangier in 1817. At the age of 16, she was courted by a Muslim man, but refused to marry him.

Maimonides: Throughout the old city of Fes, there are traces of ancient Jewish life, including the home of Maimonides, who lived in the city from 1159-1165. Suffering from the persecutions of the Almohad dynasty, Maimonides emigrated to escape forced conversion.

The Danan Synagogue: The Danan  synagogue was once only one of several inside the walls of Fes, and not the most elaborate. It is entered through a simple doorway indistinguishable from the doors of nearby houses. The door leads immediately to a short flight of stairs that lead into the high, rectangular space of the synagogue. The construction is masonry coated with plaster. The wooden ceiling is beamed and painted. The room is lit by small windows high in the walls. Photos taken in 1954 show a ceiling hung with numerous memorial lamps, now vanished. The walls are wainscotted with blue figured Moroccan tiles. The large Torah Art, a cupboard filling the width of an entire wall, is made of carved wood. The wall above is decorated with intricately carved plaster work. Opposite the Torah Ark is a raised alcove, separated from the main prayer space by a wooden screen elaborately carved with a series

Meknes Jewish Heritage Sites:
The Talmud Torah Synagogue was built in 1930. This is the last remaining synagogue in Meknes, often referred to as the Moroccan Versailles, home of the former Sultan’s palace and grounds.

Marrakech Jewish Heritage Sites:
The Marrakech Synagogue in the Jewish Mellah was created in 1558. The Jewish community enjoyed autonomy even though Jews weren’t allowed to own any property outside the Mellah and controlled the sugar trade. There are approximately 250 Jews still living in Marrakech, and most live outside the Medina. The Mellah area is now almost completely Muslim.

Jewish Synagogue, Marrakech

Jewish Synagogue, Marrakech










Essaouira Jewish Heritage Sites:

The Essaouira Jewish Cemetery: Essaouira was founded in 1765. The oldest tombs date from 1776. Contrary to Jewish tradition and Mosaic Law, the tombs are sculptured with very marked human forms. These anthropomorphic tombstones sometimes bear epigraphic inscriptions and sometimes none. The monolithic tombstones are carved out of marine sandstone. This kind of tombstone can be found in other Moroccan towns located mainly on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. In some towns such as Xauen (Tetouan) certain tombs have been dated to the 16th century. Inscriptions are in Hebrew and French. The local Jewish community owns the site. The sea is adjacent to the cemetery.

The Essaouira Mellah covers over 10 percent of the town, but Jews constituted almost 40 percent of the population in the late 1880’s. Jewish stars on the doors to the mellah show the degree to which Jews were accepted in Essaouira, to the point that some of the richer Jews did not even live in the mellah. Commemorative plaques indicate the buildings in which synagogues were located. Former inhabitants of Essaouira, most of them Jewish, formed a committee to rehabilitate the town. An important member of the committee is King Hassan II’s Economic Advisor, Andre Azoulay. The Jewish cemetery, just outside the city gates, is extremely well kept. The hiloula of Chaim Pinto is held in September.” Rabbi Chaim Pinto is buried there.

Jewish Zaouia – Sacred Space:
In Ourigane there is the Jewish, Berber Shrine of Rabbi Mordekhai & Rabbi Abraham Ben Hammou. In Ourigane, just outside the National Park, is an old Jewish Zaouia (shrine of Rabbi Mordekhai and Rabbi Abraham Ben Hammou. There is an old dirt road that leads to a compound of buildings enclosed by a gate, overshadowed by mountains and built on rocky terrain in the village of Ouirgane. Inside the shrine are three different tombs, leaving the precise burial spot of Rabbi Haim Ben Diwan in doubt — befitting the mysterious circumstances of his death.

For more information about Jewish Heritage Tours

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

A Guide to Morocco’s Jewish Heritage Sites

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Ibn Danon Synagogue, Fes

Ibn Danon Synagogue, Fes








Morocco’s Jewish Heritage sites are some of the most widely visited in the world. When traveling to Morocco on a Private Jewish Heritage Tour sightseeing at Jewish formidable sites of historical prominence are important highlights not to be missed.  Moroccan Jewish Heritage sites consist of Synagogues, Cemeteries, Zaouias and Mellahs, all preserved respectively in the the former Jewish neighborhoods of the medinas. All Jewish Heritage sites in Morocco are either UNESCO World Heritage sites or protected by the Moroccan King and government. The Jewish Heritage sites in Morocco are regularly under renovation and preservation as to ensure they remain a part of Morocco’s Jewish Heritage.

Tomb of Solica, Fes Jewish Heritage Tour

Tomb of Solica, Fes Jewish Heritage Tour










Some examples of the sites visited on a Jewish Heritage tour are  Jewish Synagogues: Temple Beth-El in Casablanca, Ibn Dannon Synagogue in Fes and The Lazama Synagogue in Marrakech. Guided by local experts on Jewish life, travelers will also visit the Jewish Mellah in Fes, famous for it’s sprawling out door terraces, the Jewish Mellah in Marrakech and two Jewish Cemeteries along with the Tomb of Solica in Fes. In Essaouira the renowned Chaim Pinto Synagogue is an important treasure along with the Slat Lkahal Synagogue, a former community synagogue, currently under a historic renovation. On a Jewish Heritage Tour Shabbat services at a synagogue and dinner at a Rabbi’s home can also be arranged to round out a private morocco travel experience.

Morocco is also home to the only Jewish museum in the Muslim World. The Museum of Moroccan Judaism is open daily six days a week with private appointments available during Sundays. The Museum of Moroccan Judaism was created by the Jewish community in Casablanca in 1997. It is a museum of both history and ethnography. Tucked away in a Casablanca neighborhood the Jewish Museum holds a treasure trove of collectables such as Hanukkah menorahs, oil lamps, marriage contracts and traditional costumes. It also has a library and video library.

Haim Pinto Synagogue, Essaouira Jewish Heritage Tour

Haim Pinto Synagogue, Essaouira








The history of Moroccan Jews’ arrival dates back to pre Christian times as they accompanied the Phoenicians on their trade expeditions across Europe. Jews also joined the various waves of Muslims who escaped persecution during Christian contests of Southern Spain in 1492. Since the Arabic-Islamic colonization Morocco from the 7th century Muslims and Jews have coexisted peacefully together.

For more information about Moroccan Heritage Sites or a Jewish Heritage Tour

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.