Morocco launched a component covering its storied Jewish community into the national curriculum for students, earning praise from Jewish leaders for the North African nation’s positive approach to pluralism.
A statement earlier this month from the Association Mimouna explained that the curriculum for primary school students focuses “on the Hebraic – Jewish cultural component enshrined in the constitution, the historical royal visit to Bayt Dhakira, and a short glimpse of the history of Moroccan Jews.”
Inaugurated in January 2020, Bayt Dhakira is described as a “spiritual and heritage space” for Moroccan Judaism that is based in the historic Jewish quarter in the city of Essaouira, home to a historic Jewish community.
For over a decade, The Association Mimouna has demonstrated devotion to promote and preserve the Moroccan Jewish culture. This effort enabled Mimouna to pass the torch of heritage to a younger generation. A cultural non-profit association was created in 2007 by young Muslim students willing to promote and preserve Jewish-Moroccan heritage.
During their 10th anniversary, the Association Mimouna claimed, “10 years ago, everything started with a dream, the journey to realize it was tough and filled with obstacles, however with encouragement, patience, discipline, and determination we reached our goals, and what we want has met the impossible. Over these past 10 years, we have made Jews and Muslims sit around a table and break the fast together, we have witnessed them dancing together. We made it possible for Jews and Muslims to meet each other and learn more about each other. We have managed to relatively restore the image of the Jew, the Moroccan Jew.”
The association expanded its activities on a national level to engage in the education of the Moroccan youth about the Moroccan Jewish heritage. This awareness was particularly achieved through Jewish-Moroccan heritage Days and educational activities designed for high school and graduate students.
“After 14 years of hard work, determination, and perseverance, Moroccan Judaism has finally made its way into the Moroccan educational system,” stated Association Mimouna said.
Two US Jewish leaders warmly praised King Mohammed VI of Morocco for his commitment “to perpetuate the Judeo-Moroccan legacy as an integral part of the Moroccan identity.”
In a joint statement, Jason Guberman of the American Sephardi Federation and Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations emphasized that the curriculum had been “released without outside prompting or fanfare in the Western press, a testament to this development being a genuine expression of Moroccan values.”
“Ensuring Moroccan students learn about the totality of their proud history of tolerance, including Morocco’s Philo-Semitism, is an inoculation against extremism,” the statement remarked. “We hope other countries take note and emulate the Kingdom’s exceptional example.”
Morocco has taken various steps in recent years to embrace Jewish identity, culture, and history by incorporating it into school studies. This includes teaching the stories and facts about the Holocaust, which was instituted into the public school curriculum beginning in 2018. There are 500,000 + Jews of Moroccan origin of which the vast majority currently live in Israel. The size of the community in Morocco today is estimated at 2,500.