The Jewish population of Oujda was 1,900 in 1960. It was a very young population, with more than 50 % less than 19 years of age. Emigration during the 1960’s emptied the city of Jews. Today, Oujda has few if any Jews.
The Oujda mellah has a modern appearance, since it was rebuilt following the pogrom of 1948. It does not feel as cramped as other mellahs since even the medina was built by the French.
The Jewish cemetery, with two saints, is just outside of the city, about a ten minute walk from the train station. It has memorials to victims of the 1948 riots.
Many of Oujda’s Jews participated in the annual hiloula, pilgrimage festival, to the shrine of Saint Rabbi Saadiah Haddati in the nearby city of Nador. Nador is on the frontier with Melilla, a Spanish enclave. Of Melilla’s 14 synagogues, nine are in the old city.
Further west along the Mediterranean coast is Al Hoceima, where in the late 1950’s, Jews boarded Israeli Mossad-financed boats to emigrate illegally to Israel. In 1961, the Egoz, a boat carrying 42 persons capsized, and the bodies of 22 victims were buried in the Christian cemetery. In 1993, the Moroccan Government cooperated with the Israeli Government to rebury the remains of these Jews in Israel.
South of Oujda, heading toward Figuig, are the remains of the labor camps established by the Vichy French Government during World War II. In addition to political prisoners, these camps held European Jews. Few if any Moroccan Jews were sent to these camps. The Diarna Geo-Museum of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Life has done an amazing job of identifying and documenting labor camps at Berguent, Tendrara, Bou Arfa, and Foum Defla.