Serge Berdugo, Secretary General of the Council of Moroccan Jewish Communities, attended in Paris the official opening by French President Emmanuel Macron and the President of the IMA Jack Lang of the exhibition “The Jews of the East, a multi-millennial history”. Berdugo reaffirmed the singularity of the history of Moroccan Jews in the Arab-Muslim world, who “have always benefited from the protection and high solicitude of the King, Amir Al-Mouminine”.
Continuing its trilogy devoted to monotheistic religions in the Arab world, the IMA is dedicating an exceptional exhibition to the history of the Jewish communities of the East. What is the significance of such an exhibition?
The event is of great symbolic significance. An exhibition that focuses on the Jews of the East in all their diversity. In a world where tolerance is being undermined, it is a powerful message that is being organised today by the Arab World Institute.
I also salute the initiative of IMA President Jack Lang and his team, who have given new life to these Jewish communities that have now disappeared. We hope that through such an exhibition, visitors will find a lost paradise here.
It is well known that Moroccan Judaism has a unique identity. How can the visitor of this exhibition understand its specificity?
Moroccan Judaism is an identity forged through more than two millennia. We have our own unique place. We, Moroccan Jews, have a history and a saga that is very different from other Arab countries because we have always benefited from the protection and the high solicitude of the King, Amir Al-Mouminine.
This is unique in the Arab-Muslim world. Today, although they have emigrated all over the world, Moroccan Jews, have a deep attachment and immense love for Morocco and its King, its values and its culture of peace and tolerance.
We are one of the largest Jewish communities in the Arab world, and we hope to contribute to a better understanding, an understanding so that peace can be found in a world where it has been weakened.
In recent years, Morocco has implemented the vision of Mohammed VI for the preservation of the Jewish community’s0 heritage and uniqueness. Can you tell us about it?
Indeed, the Moroccan Jewish heritage is rich and preserved thanks to HM King Mohammed VI. Synagogues and cemeteries have been entirely renovated throughout the Kingdom, as well as sanctuaries and mausoleums. A museum of Jewish culture, built by the Moroccan State, will soon be opened in Fez, which is unprecedented in the Arab-Muslim world.
Morocco has also seen the birth of some of the most erudite rabbis in Judaism. Thus, on 26 October, the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, commemorated the 200th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Raphael Berdugo, who is buried in Meknes and considered as one of the great rabbis of Morocco. On this occasion, the Israeli president gave a speech in which he recognised the value, importance and influence of Moroccan Judaism on world Judaism.
We will show this Moroccan singularity to the visitors of this exhibition through videos that show the life of Moroccan Jews and we will screen the film “Ya Hassra Douk Liam” which testifies the way in which Jews and Muslims lived in Morocco, in total communion, in the 1950s. It’s an exceptional film because there are archive images that nobody has ever seen.