About Moroccan Jews

What makes Moroccan Jews unique is due to many factors:

  • Unique forms of religious expression
  • Political, social and economic relations among Moroccan Jews, Arabs and the Amazigh people
  • Relationship with the monarchy
  • European colonialism
  • Creation of the state of Israel
  • Massive emigration from the 1950’s through the 1970’s
  • Interaction between Jews in Morocco and those in the diaspora

Here is your key to understanding Moroccan Jewish life, culture, history, relations with other Moroccans and emigration as well as the lives of Moroccan Jews around the world.

Map of Moroccan Jewish Communities in the Twentieth Century


Jews in Moroccan History

This section provides an overview of Moroccan Jewish history covering the following eras:

From the Beginning to the Arab Conquest
Arab and Amazigh Dynasties from the 7th to the 13th Century
Arab and Amazigh Dynasties from the 14th to the 17th Century
The Alaouite Dynasty
The European Intervention (1860’s)
The European Intervention (1870’s-1912)
The French Protectorate in Morocco (1912-1942)
The French Protectorate in Morocco (1942-1956)                                  The Spanish Protectorate in Morocco (1912-1956)
Independent Morocco under King Mohammed V (1956-1961)
Morocco under King Hassan II (1961-1999)
Morocco under King Mohammed VI (1999-Present)


The 12th century mosque of Tin Mal, the High Atlas Mountain stronghold of the Almohads, fierce persecutors of Moroccan Jews.


Role of Jews in Moroccan Society

Jews have been a vital part of Moroccan society ever since they arrived over 2,000 years ago. Each time a new people extended their power over Morocco, Jews were called upon to carry out important commercial, financial and diplomatic functions. For this reason, Moroccan Jews generally felt “at home” in their country and welcomed Jewish refugees from other countries into their communities, except during periods of insecurity.

Gathering of Casablanca Jewish Community leaders with the Governor of Settat during the Hiloula of the Saint Rabbi Yahia Lakhdar in Ben Ahmed.” 
The Arab Governor signing the Jewish Community Book, Tetuan, 1956. Standing (second from right) Jacob Serfaty, Chairman of the Community Council, ANU Museum of the Jewish People Photo Archive, courtesy of Elias Bendriham, Tangier by Gladis Pimienta, Jerusalem.

Moroccan Jewish Culture

Over 2,000 years, Moroccan Jews have integrated the cultures of Moroccan Arab and Amazigh peoples, Muslims and Christians, European colonizers and Jews from Spain and the Middle East. This section introduces you to Moroccan Jews’ art and handicrafts, language, literature, film portrayals, music, cuisine, religious practices, gender relations, occupations and professions and community life.


Door with Jewish motifs, Zagora


Jewish Emigration from Morocco

Why did almost the entire Jewish community leave Morocco between 1950 and 1970, given that Jews have lived in Morocco for over 2,000 years? In 1950, there were 250,000 – 300,000 Jews. In 1971, there were 35,000. Today, there are less than 5,000. What forces were so powerful that they could cause a people to give up its homeland and much of its culture within such a short period of time?


New Immigrants from Morocco and Israeli Instructors at the Transit Camp Grand Arenas, near Marseilles, France, prior to their immigration to Israel, 1949. ANU Museum of the Jewish People Photo Archive, Tel Aviv Courtesy of Shifra Dahan, 6 Israel



Moroccan and Israeli Fans at the 2018 World Cup in Russia (photo Amit Peleg)

The emigration of Moroccan Jews led to the development of large diaspora communities, each of which seeks to maintain ties with Morocco and celebrate Moroccan Jewish culture. This section explores Moroccan Jewish diaspora communities in Israel, France, Canada, the United States and Latin America.