Jewish Maghrib Jukebox

Friday, November 7, 2008

Essaouira – Oct 19

I decided to skip in Safi in order to meet a friend (in fact not just any friend but the only Jewish tour guide in North Africa) in Essaouira. We were to discuss my itinerary and some plans for restoring some breathtaking synagogues and cemeteries here. Upon arriving in Essaouira I headed straight for my hotel, which was located in the old mellah. I threw my stuff down and headed for the cemetery. Essaouira, like the other coastal towns, once had a significant Jewish community. The cemetery was well kept (by the famous Pinto family) and including a number of tzaddikim. I headed back to my hotel through the mellah noticing the sorry state of the neighborhood but also a number of obvious remnants of what was once Jewish including Stars of David above a number of the houses. I ate fresh fish on the boardwalk and had a wonderful conversation with my friend. We discussed restoration priorities and trip details. One interesting note is that there is so much Jewish history here that it is often difficult to keep track of. So for example I had shown my friend my itinerary and had added question marks if I was unsure whether synagogues or cemeteries were in any sort of shape or still existed. He told me in most cases that I should keep the question mark, as he was not sure if the cemetery still existed either. We drank tea and coffee until the wee hours of the Moroccan night (about 11) and then headed back to our respective hotels.

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