Isaac Ben Walid Synagogue
By Sambasoccer27 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82750099
Tetouan Synagogue Entrance

In Morocco, the first Alliance Israelite Universelle school, providing secular education in French, was founded in Tetouan in 1862. It was supported by Rabbi Isaac Ben Walid and prominent members of the community, but was fought by more traditional Jewish leaders.

Alliance Israelite Universelle School

Tetouan became the largest Jewish community in the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco. In 1949, of the 14,196 Jews in Spanish Morocco, 7,630 lived in Tetouan. In 1951, emigration reduced the Jewish population in Spanish Morocco to about 8,000 , 4,122 of whom lived in Tetouan. According to the Moroccan census of 1960, Tetouan’s Jewish population was 3,103. By 2000, only 150 Jews remained in Tetouan. 

Tetouan has an important mellah with several synagogues that have been turned into houses. They include the Ben Walid, Pintada and Crudo Synagogues. Another synagogue is in the European city. 

Jewish refugees from northern Morocco who found shelter in Gibraltar during the Spanish-Moroccan War of 1859-1862. M.C. Yriarete, 1860.
Photo: Gerard Silvain, (Paris, Gerard Silvain Collection) 

The cemetery, located on Monte Dersa, is more than 500 years old, with approximately 35,000 tombstones, making it the largest Jewish cemetery in Morocco. The major saint is Isaac Ben Walid.

Jewish woman in traditional costume,
Tetouan, late 19th century.
ANU Museum of the Jewish People Photo Archive, Tel Aviv

Near-by Tetouan is Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the Mediterranean coast. Spanish Jews maintain the modern synagogue and ancient cemetery.