Morocco’s Jewish community is the largest in the Arab world, with 3,000 members. Its institutions, are to be reformed, seeking to receive Moroccan Jews from abroad, while Morocco and Israel have made a spectacular rapprochement.
On 13 July, King Mohammed VI’s cabinet announced a reform of the country’s Jewish institutions. Created at the time of the French protectorate, they had not been reformed since 1945.
“Clearly, they no longer met the needs of the community: a change was necessary,” said Jacky Kadoch, president of the Jewish community of Marrakech-Essaouira.
Until the late 1940s, about 250,000 Jews lived in Morocco, but the vast majority left the country for Israel, France or Canada. Today, there are about 3,000 Jews living in the kingdom.
They remain the largest community in the Arab world, led by a Council of Jewish Communities in Morocco which has a representative role and deals with matters of worship and social welfare.
The reform, described in a press release, foresees the creation of a National Council of the Moroccan Jewish community which should ensure “the management of the community’s affairs and the safeguarding of the heritage and the cultural and religious influence of Judaism and its authentic Moroccan values”.
The main novelty lies in the creation of a commission for Moroccan Jews abroad.
“Demographic changes had to be taken into account, but also the recent openings,” describes a community official, referring to the normalisation of relations between Morocco and the Jewish state since the end of 2020.
Around 800,000 Moroccan Jews live in Israel. “Moroccan Jews, their children and grandchildren continue to practice Moroccan rites wherever they live. They participate in the life of the community,” says Jacky Kadoch.
The new institutions will have to respond to many challenges, from the accelerated ageing of Moroccan Jews to the challenges of accommodating the growing number of Jewish tourists coming to the kingdom, especially from Israel.
“We will have to talk about kosher if, before long, between 200,000 and 300,000 Jews visit the country every year,” the community leader anticipates. “It’s not the same as ensuring this for a community of 3,000 people.
For his part, the secretary general of the Jewish community of Fez, Jacob Pinto, hopes that “the new council will have the means to control the fate of the country’s immense Jewish heritage, which has often been the victim of abuse or mismanagement”.