Jewish Maghrib Jukebox

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Demnate – November 4

I had dreamed of Demnate since first conceiving of this trip. Demnate of course once had a very large Jewish community (was known as a Jewish city). The whole area around Marrakech is incredibly dense with all sites Jewish. Demnate for some reason was off the beaten path. Jen and I had tried to go during October but Ramadan thwarted our plans. Demnate is a walled city with a Kasbah and is situated in the mountains. I took the bus there. The ride was about 1.5-2 hours, much longer then I thought it would be. There were two hotels in town. Neither of which was of any interest. The first was closed for good. The second was open but shouldn’t have been. I prepared myself for what I thought would be an unpleasant nights sleep. The hotel was only 30 dirhams for the night (about 3 dollars and very cheap even for Morocco). I put my bags in my room and headed for the cemetery. I took a winding road up the mountain to get there. Once again everyone knew where it was. It was huge and protected by a wall. In reasonably good condition although no longer totally protected. There was a tzaddik's grave that had been desecrated and I found the very sad grave of a Bar Mitzvah boy. There were hundreds of graves with visible Hebrew on them. Destruction that I had seen in other places had not totally reached Demnate. There was an adjacent section that was much better protected then the first but only a dozen or so graves remained visible. There was a third section with graves in excellent condition. There was a high wall and another layer of protection that I hadn’t seen before. A tall row of cactus made entrance almost impossible. It had to be deliberate I thought. It was impenetrable. I headed to the mellah although everything had been torn down and rebuilt. One curiosity was that the neighborhood next to the mellah was called Mimouna. Hay Mimouna. Mimouna School. Mimouna pharmacy. Mimouna is a Moroccan Jewish holiday celebrated at the end of Passover. I wonder(ed) if there is any connection at all.

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