Museums and Restored Synagogues, Cemeteries and Saints’ Tombs

Museums

Morocco has several museums that include a focus on the country’s Jewish heritage. It also has the first museum in the Arab world dedicated to Jewish heritage and culture, the Moroccan Jewish Museum. Another Jewish museum was created in Essaouira, and a new Jewish museum is under development in Fez.

The Moroccan Jewish Museum in Casablanca

Moroccan Jewish Museum Sign
By Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71002588

The Moroccan Jewish Museum was created by the Jewish Community of Casablanca in 1997 with support from the Foundation of Jewish-Moroccan Cultural Heritage. It was founded by Simon Levy, Serge Berdugo and Boris Toledano and is curated by Zhor Rehihil. The Museum seeks to build understanding of the evolution of Moroccan Jewish culture and the place of Jews in Moroccan society. It has both a permanent exhibition and space for temporary exhibitions. The permanent exhibition focuses on religious items, such as: a) torah scrolls and ornaments; b) synagogue lamps; c) bar mitzvah bags; d) hanukkah lamps; e) Purim scrolls; f) circumcision chairs; g) synagogue bima. The Museum also has in its collection a) tombstones from cemeteries in the South; b) prayer books; c) traditional Jewish clothes and embroidery; d) manuscripts written in Judeo-Arabic.

The Museum collaborates with the Foundation of Jewish-Moroccan Heritage to sponsor workshops, community discussions and academic presentations. It also receives support from the Association of the Friends of the Moroccan Jewish Museum.

One of the Museum Rooms
By Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the Museum Rooms
By Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
One of the Museum Rooms
By Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Book of Deuteronomy
By Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Jewelry
By Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Megillah of Hitler
By Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The House of Memory (Bayt Dakira) in Essaouira

André Azoulay in Bayt Dakira
By Fadel Senna, AFP

The House of Memory, inaugurated in 2020, is dedicated to the historic coexistence of Essaouira’s Jewish and Muslim communities. It was launched by André Azoulay, a native of Essaouira who is an advisor to King Mohammed V.

The museum showcases objects donated by local families alongside stories of members of the Jewish community from the southwestern city on the Atlantic. They include Leslie Belisha (1893-1957), who was Britain’s minister of finance, transport and war, and David Yulee Levy (1810-1986), the “first Jew elected to Congress in United States history.” A panel lists Jewish royal advisers from Essaouira, including Azoulay who in 1991 became advisor to King Hassan II, father of King Mohammed VI. The museum also houses old photographs, archive footage, musical recordings, traditional dress and religious objects.

Other Museums

Moroccan Culinary Arts Museum (Marrakesh)

Salad Room of the Moroccan Culinary Arts Museum

The Moroccan Culinary Arts Museum in Marrakesh, which opened in 2019, boasts an entire room dedicated to Moroccan Jewish cuisine.

American Legation Museum (Tangier)

American Legation Museum

The American Legation Museum is in the Legation building, which was given to the US government by the Sultan in 1821. It was one of the first overseas building owned by the US government. The Legation is the only US National Historic Landmark outside the 50 states and territories. The Museum’s collection includes Sephardic Jewish costumes and documents dealing with the history of Jews in Morocco.

 Oudayas Museum (Rabat)

Exterior of Oudayas Kasbah in Rabat
Davide Cesare Veniani, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

The Oudayas Museum and Gardens became the National Jewelry Museum. It includes jewelry that reflects Jewish Moroccan culture. As of 2020, it was closed for renovation. 

Belghazi Museum (Bouknadel)

Belghazi Museum Exhibit
From Reuters (https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5487307,00.html)

This museum, located in Bouknadel between Sale and Mehdia, celebrates the range of ethnic groups and religions that make up Moroccan civilization and identity. Its eclectic collection includes Jewish ritual items, clothes and jewelry.

Fez Museum of Jewish Memory

In Fez, a museum dedicated to Jewish memory was under construction as of 2020.