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Morocco restores ancient synagogue

The old Jewish quarters in Essaouira, Morocco.Credit: World Imaging/Wikimedia Commons.

The old Jewish quarters in Essaouira, Morocco.
Credit: World Imaging/Wikimedia Commons.

( Morocco held a ceremony on Feb. 20 to inaugurate the completion of renovations to an ancient Jewish synagogue in the historic city of Fez. The two-year restoration of the Slat al-Fassiyine (Prayer of the Fesians) synagogue was partly financed by Germany. The ceremony included Morocco’s Islamist prime minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, and German parliament speaker Norbert Lammert, as well as former Moroccan Minister Serge Berdugo, who is Jewish. Israel and Morocco do not have formal diplomatic relations. The ancient synagogue in Fez is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In a message read at the inauguration ceremony, King Mohammed VI said that he wishes for the restoration of all synagogues in Moroccan cities so that they can “serve as places of worship…and as forums for cultural dialogue.”
Morocco was home to over 250,000 Jews during the first half of the 20th century. But amid the establishment of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict, many Jews fled or were forced from their homes throughout the Middle East. Today, Morocco’s Jewish community is estimated to be around 3,000.

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