Jewish Maghrib Jukebox

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Videos from the Tahala Jewish Cemetery

I've added a couple of short videos from the Tahala Jewish cemetery. If anyone has any updates on the status of the cemetery, please send my way. It is surreal to once again see these videos after having been away from the region for too long.

Here is some of what I wrote back in October 2008:

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 and the study of the Jews of the Sous are continuing to gain interest among historians and anthropologists. Read Abdellah Larhmaid's excellent chapter on Jewish Identity and Landowndership in the Sous Region of Morocco in the excellent and recently released Jewish Culture and Society in North Africa.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Images from the Tahala Jewish Cemetery

Jewish cemetery in Tahala (2008)

There is more music on the way soon but I want to start uploading my photos from past trips to the blog and thought I would start today before Shabbat. Below are a few more photos from the abandoned Jewish cemetery in Tahala, a small village outside of Tafroute in the Ameln Valley that once had a sizable Jewish community (as a percentage of the entire village). At the time the photos were taken there was significant development occurring adjacent to the cemetery and no wall to protect it from the new construction. I'm unfortunately not sure what the current state of the cemetery is.

Read about my travel to Tahala here and here.

Tombstone from Jewish cemetery in Tahala (2008)

Tombstone from Jewish cemetery in Tahala (2008)