The Mellah of Marrakesh
Jewish and Muslim Space in Morocco's Red City
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Indiana University Press
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In the field of Moroccan Jewish history, the diffusion of primary source materials tends to mirror the dispersal of the Jews themselves. For this reason, the various texts on which this study is based were amassed from libraries, archives, and private collections in Morocco, France, England, Israel, and the United States (the list could have gone on). ...
Note on Transliteration, Spelling, and Usage
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The question of language is always a difficult one for scholars of Moroccan history, especially Moroccan Jewish history, who must contend not only with the usual blurry distinctions between Modern Standard Arabic and regional dialects but also with well-established French transliteration systems and Jewish accents on all of the above. ...
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In December of 1863, Moses Montefiore, the prominent British philanthropist, statesman, and self-styled defender of world Jewry, came to Morocco. Like his several previous trips to the Muslim world, his current visit was motivated by reports of the severe mistreatment of his coreligionists. ...
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In the summer of 1555, in compliance with a papal bull, the ghetto of Rome was created. Within less than half a decade, across the Mediterranean in the great, dry plain of the Hawz, the Jews of Marrakesh met a fate not unlike that of their Roman coreligionists when they too were transferred to their own “city within a city.” ...
2. Counting Jews in Marrakesh
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Although the 'Alawis never replicated the close ties of their Sa'di predecessors to Marrakesh, the southern capital was in no way abandoned by the new dynasty. With the creation of a third royal capital at Meknes in 1672 some of the country’s political focus naturally shifted northward, but this was largely offset ...
3. Muslims and Jewish Space
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Dubbed Marrakech la Rouge in French and al-Hamrã in Arabic for its red ochre visage, Marrakesh was surely an Orientalist’s dream city. As the winter home of the sultan, it bore the all-important title of “royal capital,” for which reason it was also a city to which foreigners had only restricted access, ...
4. Jews and Muslim Space
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Clearly, Jews felt most at home in the mellah, where, even if they didn’t always enjoy the total autonomy sometimes suggested, they nonetheless owned property, practiced their religion with minimal interference, maintained their own institutions, worked, and raised their families: ...
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In the summer of 1891, a group of men from the Ahmar tribe came to Marrakesh looking for trouble. According to their legends, there was a treasure buried somewhere in the Ahmar territories, but finding it would require the help of a Jewish child. Their preference was for one with red hair who was also nearsighted, ...
Epilogue: H�y al-Sal�m
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The area of Marrakesh once known as the mellah is today called H�y al-Sal�m, its name a nostalgic (or perhaps even ironic) nod to the more positive aspects of the complex sets of interactions once carried out within its walls. Jews have all but disappeared from the mellah, and indeed from the city as a whole. ...
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Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 17 b&w photos, 9 maps
Publication Year: 2007
Series Title: Indiana Series in Middle East Studies