Southwest of Oujda is Debdou, a town that had a significant Jewish population, as shown by its large mellah and two Jewish cemeteries. At one point, Jews were almost three-quarters of the population. In 1950, the town had about 1,000 Jews. Despite significant emigration, Jews made up almost 400 persons out of the population of 3,500 in 1960.
Two families that fled Spain in 1391 provided leadership to the Jewish community, the Cohen-Scali and the Murciano families. Rivalry between the families resulted in the creation of the town’s 17 synagogues. David Cohen-Scali served as governor of the Debdou region in the early 20th century.
The older Debdou cemetery was founded over 900 years ago. The more recently established cemetery was created in the early 20th century. Saints include Youssef Bensimon, Jacob Cohen, Ishak Ben Moche Cohen, Mardochee Ben Moche Cohen, and Moche Ben Sultan. Several of the saints are visited annually by pilgrims during their hiloula celebrations.