Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending a fascinating conference at the Jewish Museum in Casablanca, organized by an inspiring group of young Moroccans, all Muslims, I believe, who have come together to preserve Morocco’s Jewish heritage. Actually, the conference spanned a few days, but I only attended one afternoon session dealing with issues of mutual understanding and Moroccan responses to the Holocaust.
Speakers included Museum Director Dr. Simon Levy, who spoke about the meaning and challenge of preserving Moroccan Jewish heritage; Museum Curator Mrs. Zohr Rhihel, who discussed her experience as the foremost Muslim world expert on Hebrew and Jewish Culture; Mr. Forsan Hussein, Palestinian Muslim CEO of a Christian institution (YMCA) in a Jewish country (Israel), who shared his personal story of overcoming stereotypes and fostering intercultural understanding; Mrs. Suzanne Baazat, Vice President of the High Atlas Foundation and AmeriSource, who spoke about the exuberant reverence of rural Moroccans towards Jewish holy sites and the need to alleviate rural poverty to help these communities continue to care for these sites. Afterwards, Mr. Peter Geffen, co-sponsor of the event who led a group of American Jewish students to attend, moderated a discussion on Moroccan responses to the Holocaust. After a tour of the museum, led by Dr. Levy, the event concluded with a wonderful performance of traditional Sephardic and Moroccan Jewish music. U.S. Ambassador Samuel Kaplan had also spoke at the event, but in the morning before I arrived.
UPDATE (Nov. 11): For more information, please see:
-“Morocco’s Holocaust recognition rare in Islam: King’s stance reflects country’s history in Jewish-Muslim relations.”
-“History of the Jews in Morocco”