In the latest sign of the warming ties between Israel and Morocco, an Israeli musical was performed in the North African country in Hebrew— a first for Morocco or any Arab country.
“Bustan Sephardi” (“Spanish Orchard”) is a new version of the 1969 original play by the same title that depicted daily life in a Sephardic neighborhood of Jerusalem during the 1930s. It was written by Yitzhak Navon, who would later become Israel’s fifth president.
The play’s arrival in Rabat is seen as a potential gateway for further cultural exchanges between the countries.
The initiative to perform the Israeli play in Morocco was led by Navon’s son Erez. The Navon family are descendants of a renowned Moroccan-Jewish family that immigrated to Jerusalem in 1742, and Erez has been on a mission to bring his father’s work to the country since the two countries normalized relations in 2020.
“‘Bustan Sephardi’ highlights the culture of Sephardic Jews that was muted at the time [of its writing],” Navon expressed. “My father saw the outcry of Sephardic Jews who were seeing their culture vanish and being silenced and so ‘Bustan Sephardi’ was born.”
The report said the Israeli cast that was flown into Rabat received a friendly reception.
The show ended with a Moroccan choir singing the Israeli national anthem “Hatikva” along with the Israeli actors.
“It’s crazy, I can’t believe we’re speaking Hebrew on the stage of Morocco’s national theater,” said Israeli actor Tal Mosseri.
The play appears to have been well-received.
With nearly 3,000 performances since it first debuted, “Bustan Sephardi” is considered one of the most popular plays in Israeli history and the longest-running play at Habima.