An Ancient Walled City
Taroudant is a walled city much like Marrakech, but smaller in size. The Jewish community is believed to have been established in the region in the 11th century. The city was a major stopping point for the caravan trade that went from Marrakesh through Akka to Timbuktu. As a result, it was fought over frequently by the Moroccan sultans and Amazigh chieftans. Jews made up more than 10% of the population and played an important role in the city’s economy.
Poverty in the Twentieth Century
With the end of the caravan trade, the economy of Taroudant deteriorated. Running water was unavailable as late as the 1950s. Over 40% of the Jewish population was supported by the community at that time. Alcoholism was a major problem. To escape poverty, many Jews moved to Marrakesh and on to Israel in the early 1960s.
Jews lived in the mellahs of Freij and Tiout. In Tiout, they lived in an area next to the kasbah high up on the hill. The oasis below is called “Below the Jews.” Nearby is the tomb of a Jewish saint, Shalom Benzaquin. The tomb of another Jewish saint, Rabbi Daould Ben Baroukh, is found in Souk Tlat de Mnahba on the road to the mountain pass Tizi n Test.