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Aït Ourir

(222 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
Aït  Ourir (Berb. Ayt Ūrīr) is a village of the Mesfioua tribe in Morocco, situated 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Marrakesh in the direction of Ouarzazate in Glawa land. It is known for its salt mine. The mellah (Ar. mallāḥ ) of Aït  Ourir was part of a chain of small Jewish communities scattered in the Telouet that may have dated back …


(1,318 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
Although the origins and early evolution of the Jewish communities of Tarudant and the surrounding region are not documented, it can be asserted that Jewish rural or semi-rural communities existed at least since the eleventh century in Tarudant and its environs. In the mid-twelfth century, Abraham Ibn Ezra’s famous qina (elegy), which evoked the destruction of Jewish communities in North Africa and Andalusia under the Almohads, mentioned the Sous region; Tarudant was one of the largest communities there. Extant sources demonstrate that Tarudant, a town located 8…


(384 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
The town of Tazenakht is located in the Sirwa massif, adjacent to the Anti-Atlas Mountains on the east, and at the crossroads of the mountainous routes between the Darʿa and Sous valleys and the Dadès of southern Morocco. Caravans and armies have crossed the region at least since the sixteenth century, and a large weekly market was held there. The town is now known for weaving and selli…

Tifnout (valley)

(454 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
The valley of the Tifnout region is located below Mount Toubkal (4,167 meters/13,671 feet), between the High Atlas Mountains on the west and the Sirwa massif on the east, above the Sous Valley in Morocco. It hosted a number of small Jewish communities. Their precise origin is unknown, but they were probably not very old (the earliest evidence dates from the beginning of the twentieth century, suggesting that Jews may have been in the region in the nineteenth century). They were among the very few communities in Morocco that were primarily monolingual Judeo-Berber speaking until the twe…

Gozlan, Solomon

(446 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
Solomon Gozlan wrote poetry in Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, and both languages together, and is only known through the acrostic signatures of his poems.  He lived in southern Morocco, in the Draa region, and perhaps in the western Algerian city of Oran in the second half of the eighteenth century and early in the nineteenth. By his own testimony, he taught young children in the Tamgrut region and composed talismans. Gozlan was the first Jewish poet in North Africa to write most of his work in spoken Judeo-Arabic and to address the living conditions and problems of peop…

Ḥaliwa, Solomon

(567 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
Solomon Ḥaliwa was born in Meknes, Morocco, and died there toward the end of the eighteenth century when he was around sixty years old. The three qinot (elegies) he wrote on the death of the famous Hebrew poet David ben Aharon Hassin (1728-1792), who also lived in Meknes, indicate that Ḥaliwa was the younger of the two. They show that Haliwa admired Ḥassin’s work and used it as a model but was more innovative. Although Ḥaliwa wrote hundreds of poems, addressing a great diversity of themes and displaying a unique richness of language, his writings did not spread across…

Elkaim, David

(756 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
Rabbi David ben Nissim Elkaim (185?–1940) was a poet and maskil in Essaouira (Mogador) who influenced Hebrew poetry and Jewish cultural tradi…


(337 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
The town of Inezgane, located 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Agadir, had one of the youngest Jewish communities in Morocco. Jews began gradually settling there among the Berber tribe of Ksima in the 1930s, thanks to economic opportunities resulting from the development of the town and the nearby port of Agadir. Inezgane attracted hundreds of Jews from small communities in the Sous region—Ifrane, Goulimine, Iligh, Tahala, Tillin, Tiznit, Tarudant, …


(2,342 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
The Sous (Ar. Bilād al-Sūs; Cl. Ar. geography al-Sūs al-Aqṣā, the Farther Sous) is a vast region in southwestern Morocco, located between the Atlantic coast south of Agadir, the Anti-Atlas Mountains, and the edge of the Sahara. The region extends uphill and eastward below the Anti-Atlas, from the Tizi n-Test pass to the bed of the Oued Sous below Lake Tifnout; downhill and westward from the mouth of the river near Agadir and along the Atlantic coast to the Akka and Tata …


(327 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
Bzou (Berb. Bzū) is a large Berber village in the Azilal region of Morocco, in the High Atlas Mountains. It is situated north of Demnat, on the way to Kasba Tadla and Beni Mellal, and is famous for its fine wool fabrics ( jallābiya bziwīja), orchards, and olive oil. The Jewish community of Bzou dated back at least to the eighteenth century. In the twentieth century, it consisted of about two hundred people who lived side by side with their Muslim neighbors in the same neighborhoods in an atmosphere of intimacy and fellowship. The Jews were mainly artisans, such as tinsmit…

Ighil n'Ogho

(355 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
Ighil n-Ogho was the central  mellah (Ar. mallāh ; see also Jewish Quarter) of the Talouine region (Zagmouzen tribe), in the Sirwa massif, above the Sous region (near Ras al-Wad) in southern Morocco. Zagmouzen was an important thoroughfare in the mountains between the Draa (Dar‘a) and Sous valleys; it is still known today for its excellent saffron. The mellah was founded in the sixteenth century or possibly earlier. Judging from the large cemetery located 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away, it may have had some 350 inhabitants in th…


(304 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
Tinjdad is a town in south-central Morocco that became a regional center in the time of the French protectorate. It is located in the Ferkla Valley, which offers a natural passage between the Dadès, Todgha, Dar‘a, and Ziz (Tafilalet) valleys. Not far from Tinjdad, in the Asrir district, the two small mellahs of Aït Lbzem and Aït Far were settled in the sixteenth century. They were close to each other and shared a cemetery but fell under the protection of different Berber tribes, according to tradition. Some Jews owned farmland in the valley. One, in fact, was one of the largest land…

Draa (Dar‘a)

(1,258 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
The Draa (Ar. Dar‘a; Mor. Ar. Dra‘) is the region around the Draa River in southern Morocco, which rises on the southern slopes of the High Atlas and flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It was home to some of the oldest Jewish communities in Morocco. According to some sources, the Jewish communities of the Draa Valley were the only ones in North Africa to exist as autonomous powers before the Arab conquest. Local Jewish chronicles, dating from a much later period, recount that there was a Jewish kingdom of the Draa, and that its capital city was Tamgrut (Tamgrout). These facts have no…


(362 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
Boudenib (Ar. Bū Dhanīb) is located in southeastern Morocco in the central part of the Guir Valley, near a palm grove east of the Tafilalet, not far from the Algerian border, on the road that links Errachidia (formerly Ksar Souk) to Colombe Béchar in southern Algeria. Because of its location at the southeastern edge of the Moroccan desert and close to Algeria, Boudenib witnessed repeated battles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Berber tribe from Aït Izdeg settled there in the seve…


(341 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
The town of Tillin in the Sous region of southwestern Morocco is 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Anzi, in a valley in the territory of the Aït (Ida) Oultit tribe. The Tillin Jewish community was one of the most important in the region. It probably dated from the sixteenth century, but Jews may have settled there as early as the eleventh century, Until its gradual dispersion in the twentieth century, when its members moved on to Tiznit, Inezgan, Agadir, Casablanca, and finally to Israel (in 1963), the Tillin community consisted of about fifty families. They trad…


(1,289 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
Scholars have long pondered the existence of a distinct Jewish language that might have been used by Jewish communities living in a Berber-speaking environment. Recent studies based on linguistic and ethnographic investigations in southern Morocco and the High Atlas Mountains show that Judeo-Berber dialects existed until the twentieth century in some rural and semirural communities in Morocco, whether or not parallel to Judeo-Arabic dialects, but that they never fun…
Date: 2014-09-03

Moroccan Judeo-Arabic

(14,312 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
1. IntroductionScholars working on the Judeo-Arabic dialects of Morocco classify and describe them all either as pre-Hilali or non-Hilali urban dialects, or simply as “sedentary” dialects. They were formed during the first phase of the Arabization of Morocco between the eighth and eleventh centuries (Marçais 1961:171–209; Lévy 1996; 2009:25–160; Aguade et al., 1998; Caubet 2000–2001). This occurred later than in al-Andalus and the development of the Andalusian political and cultural centers (inc…

Haskala Movement

(2,859 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit | Lital Levy
1. Maghreb European colonialism, which led to the French conquest of Algeria in 1830 as well as the expansion of the protégé system through the foreign consulates in the Maghreb, exposed Jewish communities in the area to the influence of European culture and lifestyles. In Algeria, young Jews were attending French schools as early as 1846; in Morocco, the first school of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) opened in Tetouan in 1862, with many more following in other communities. In Tunisia, the first AIU school opened in 1879, and in Tripoli (Libya) in 1890.       Concurrent with th…