Jewish Morocco

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ighil Noro - Oct 30

This village does not exist on any maps I have seen. Some grand taxi drivers knew it and some didn’t. Luckily mine did. We first had to drive to Talioune, about an hour and a half from Taroudant. I was uncomfortable the whohle way there. At Talioune I had a delicious tagine and then headed to the grand taxi stand there. Everyone there knew Ighil.About 8 drivers gathered around me. When they learned I was Jewish they all began to talk exciditly. I should not only see Ighil but this and that and this. They had a list of things they thought I should see. The argued over memories and how things were. I hopped in an almost full grand taxi and a short while later I was there. No cell phone reception. It was almost as if they were purposefully being kept off the map and the radar. It is a mudbrick village, like Akka but smaller. The population is Haratin. I finally entered a small convenient store to ask for directions when a very helpful woman learned that I wanted to see the restored synagogue there and led me straight to it. This is what I consider my first real failure here in Morocco. I have usually just shown up places and prayed that the guardian is around. Everytime that has been true except for this one. The guardian was in Casablanca for the day (but who knows how long really) and she had the only key. It was in everyone’s interest to help me (and they did) but unfortunately I would have to be content with looking at the outside. I walked back and thought it wasn’t a total loss because there was supposedly a very interesting Jewish cemetery not far from there. I walked by two boys playing marbles in the sand. A man appeared from an entrance way and pointed me in the right direction. The cemetery was very large. Many tombs maintained their shape. Many were also completely desecrated. There was underwear everywhere. All sorts of outer and underwear in fact. There is apparently a local belief that washing at the tomb of a Jew has certain healing powers and thus women will come to the cemetery wash at a tomb (after trying to open the tomb) and rid themselves of their clothes there. There was also a structure partially intact which could have been the Hevra Kadish building. There were three graves that still had Hebrew inscriptions. One wasn’t destroyed and the other two were partially destroyed although you could still make out partial Hebrew words and letters. One of these was in very bad condition. It had been tampered with in such a way that was particularly emotional. Shards of Hebrew lay around the rubble. I began to pick some up to take a closer look but then it started raining. I moved away from the tomb and the rain stopped. I walked around the whole cemetery and back to this very interesting tomb. It started raining again. I thought that if I was a more religious/spiritual person then this might seem even stranger then it actually was. I moved away and the rain stopped. I walked around the cemetery a second time and headed back to this tomb. It started raining again. It was far too centralized. It appeared to be raining only on this tomb. It was inexplicable and I wont try to explain here but I wanted to make sure that I wrote that particular memory down.

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