Jewish Maghrib Jukebox

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tahala – Oct 25

I woke up early, as usual, and left in search of two places in and around Tafraoute that I knew still claimed Jewish cemeteries: Tazoulte and Tahala. For the life of me I could not find a grand taxi to Tazoulte and so opted for Tahala instead. I was more excited by Tahala anyways. I brought with me 55 year old pictures of the ancient synagogue in Tahala and a street scene. However I also had a hand drawn map that located Tahala close to Fes and not close to Tafraoute and so I was interested to see if this was the same Tahala and if it had been originally misidentified on the map.

I arrived in Tahala and quickly found an amicable old man who pointed me in the right direction. Tahala is a small village about 15 km outside of Tafraoute. It was a Saturday and even quieter than usual. If I saw anyone around I asked them to point me in the direction of the cemetery and the happily did so. I finally arrived to a construction site. The Moroccan equivalent of a McMansion was being built in Tahala and seriously blemished the landscape. The construction workers motioned me forward past the site and to what looked like construction materials at first glance. But at second glance it was much more than construction materials. It was the remnant of the Tahala Jewish cemetery. There were about 12-15 visible graves with visible, clearly written Hebrew on about 6 of the graves. Some of the graves lied under construction materials and many had been destroyed. There was broken pottery, mostly tagine lids, strewn about and a good number of the graves that were still in good condition had been desecrated from the top. A number of people I have spoken to on this matter seem to think that local Berber traditions have identified Jewish cemeteries as sources of certain powers and the broken pottery and even the desecration is part of these rituals. As construction moved along and as I moved on it seemed to me that this cemetery only has a few years left before it is totally destroyed. Sadly it was one of the most moving cemeteries I have seen since arriving in Morocco and was at a loss of what to do. If the Hebrew inscriptions are not moved to a museum (perhaps in Casablanca) then they will completely disappear in the near future.


tahala said...

i am from tahala ,i never seen this cemtiere you talk about i know a lot place houses , lake stores , lakes that one i use to swim it was nice time

Chris Silver said...

Please email me at to continue this conversation.