Magnificent Morocco – 6. Jewish Tangier

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A synagogue in Tangier.  This is the only one I could find from what my phone said on Google maps.   It looks like a normal house, as I think its now just someone’s home.    There was a (I think) a Muslim prayer carpet hung over one of the windows.   There are no signs of any candelabra or 6 pointed star or obvious religious icons.   I’m guessing that when nearly all the Jewish community left Tangier, they took all the most important religious articles with them.

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The cemetery. I didn’t spend very long here enough to find it was locked, I got badgered by a beggar who wouldn’t leave me along and insisted on being my tour guide or sell me Marijuana.   The blanket in the picture is covering a homeless person.

The Hebrew inscription is בית החיים (Beit H’Chaim), House of Life.   Odd for a place like this, but its probably meant to be celebrating remembering the life of the deceased person I think.

Notice the bit that says Cemetario Judio?  This is Spanish.   Older Moroccans speak Spanish, but younger people just know French and Arabic, maybe some English.    Note, the actual name Morocco is Spanish derived, the official Arabic word is Maghreb, and the French word is Maroc.

What I wanted to know, is how many practicing Jews still live in Morocco and what is their relationship like the Muslim majority like?  What’s it like with the Jewish holidays in full swing compared to Israel or anywhere else?   What about the Jews that adopted Christianity, what happened to them?   Over the course of my travels I got to find out some fascinating things.

Previous 5. The Riad in Tangier

Next 7. Tangier (een) dream

Believers should stay away from conspiracy hysteria

For a while I was thinking of writing something about the growing amount of sensationalist material and how Christians take too much interest in it.

I know people that used to spread the gospel but now put more energy into how someone is going to take me away in the night instead.   True, there’s less trust in governments since the whole Snowden thing though.   When folks are told not to listen to their doctor and get treatments from someone they’ve never heard of on the web, it becomes a bit ridiculous.   Often dare criticise those into some of this so called ‘hidden knowledge’ then conspiracyophiles can turn nasty, and consider you part of the “system”.

My friend Judah has done a sterling job of blogging on how this stuff can destroy our credibility as believers and spread harmful teaching often in the direction of antisemitism.

http://judahgabriel.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/conspiracy-theories-promote-anti.html

Magnificent Morocco – 5. The Riad in Tangier

Before I got there, my expectations of Morocco were to find these beautiful buildings that look lavish finished with black and white tile patterns, high ceilings and ornamental lamps.    Like some of the places I’ve seen like the Arab Christian youth hostel in Nazareth, but better as I’ve read so much about the Moroccan artisans and their incredible attention to detail.

This is Tangier looking from back to the port I came out of yesterday

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I got into a small taxi which the driver took me at full speed into the old city up a series of windy streets, I’m thinking we can’t get through that small doorway, with a lot of skill from the driver he weaves his way, finally getting through a tight bend which required a full left lock one direction, then puts the car in reverse and full right lock and then ahead. I was outside my hostel, actually the journey was very quick, I didn’t realise it was right across from the ferry terminal.   My journey is only 2 Euros.   I haven’t actually got any local money yet.

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This is the living room.   Lots of comfy seats and computer to borrow there.   Absolutely love the decorations here, the high ceilings, mosaic and tile work, coloured glass ornament lamp shades, and of course carpets.

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This place is on 3 floors, you can see all the way down through the glass floor from the top room where I was at.

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Star shaped iron work, pale pastel coloured walls, palm trees, – and – a glass floor revealing what is on the floors above and below you!!!   I think this place had been extensively renovated recently.

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This was my room for the night.   the bathroom is set inside this wardrobe-like partition.   This would be a pretty cool place for a honeymoon I think.

I was the only person in this place, I had it to myself!   Guess it was the quiet season.

I would thoroughly recommend staying at the Dar Jameel. 

I found out later that a Riad is a type of mansion that was popular with the wealthy here.   I think that’s where the city in Saudi Arabia of the same name comes from.  Its amazing this place has been built and kept in such beautiful condition.

Previous – 4. Sailing to Tangier

Breakthrough from stress and anxiety through the word of God

In recent years I’ve found myself getting problems with anxiety, working in a school it seems to get worse.   Although I’m not a teacher, I really feel for teachers and the pressures they go through and expectations, and a lot of the time its a thankless job.

I found this passage helpful:-

Philippians 4 : 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Magnificent Morocco – 4. Sailing to Tangier

I was now pretty excited about getting on a boat to Africa from Spain, actually I got my ticket and left on a bus from Algeciras but was driven on the bus (as part of the ferry ticket) from Tarifa, which I noticed this town in Spain had people that seemed to mostly Arabic / North African.  Whilst purchasing my ticket from a dedicated travel shop, there are two men next to me talking to the owner in Arabic, both of them are black, and are tall and slender and possibly look racially like a nation like Sudan or Somalia, but in the corner of my eye I see they get their passports out and and they are from Algeria.

Algeciras sounds a lot like Al Jazeera the Qatar based English Arab news channel, I’m pretty sure its an Arabic word left over from the days when the Arab ruled Spain.    Paradoxically, there is a Spanish enclave built into today’s Morocco called Ceuta.

So its, not really simple to work out who “took” whose land, as many different people groups have swapped around these two opposite facing nations countless times.

I’ve got a few hours to go kill, so I have Arabic coffee in a little cafe run by Moroccans in Algeciras.  The man has a picture of King Mohammed VI of Morocco on his wall and tells me he has met him. The cafe is advertised as having wifi (pronounced “whiffy” by French and Moroccan people) but actually I have to sit near the window as its pinched from the hotel across the road, as the cafe manager found out the code from his competitor’s business!!

Part of the reason for this trip is for me to learn about the different faiths that in Morocco besides Islam. there was once a thriving Jewish community, which have largely gone, but there all sorts of rumours of some converted to Islam or Christianity. I see a lot of Jews in Israel of Moroccan descent, and I think its a heritage they are proud of which has its own individuality. There is meant to be Christians both indigenous and those converted from Islam, but relatively DSCF8092 1024few.

After looking for somewhere to ear, but only finding an ok-ish Turkish kebab place for lunch, across the road I noticed this Christian ministry which got me excited.  Looking closer its a group that are from Brazil, its quite heart warming to see the Brazilian people who have a heart for Israel also want to preach the gospel to the nations too!  Check out their site at http://semadeter.com.br/

When it was time to get my bus, I began to worry a bit, there were some buses in the large car park but with little signage to tell you where.   After asking various people in turns out I had the right bus.

Once on the boat it was getting dark.   The ferry felt a bit like the Isle of Wight trip with cars on bottom, and passengers are needed to carry (no lift) their own luggage up the stairs to the deck which has seating with a cafe in the middle, we were told to fill in some documents showing our purpose of visiting Morocco to a government employee sitting in the corner of the boat’s cafe, this was a bit nerve wracking approaching him with about 10 Israeli stamps mostly volunteer visas on my passport.

The boat only took an hour, once disembarking, it was quite quick process to get through a small terminal into Tangier.  it was too dark to get proper pictures of the largely empty port before I got my taxi, but boy, Tangier turned out to be an exciting place!

Previous – 3. Gibraltar’s rock and residents

Next – 5. The Riad in Tangier

Magnificent Morocco – 3. Gibraltar’s rock and residents

I guess the Mediterranean is tumultuous in several different ways.   The sea can be rough, friends of mine witnessed a tragic fatal drowning in Tel Aviv in Israel, and the bible tells us of how rough the sea was when Paul crashed him boat off the coast of Malta.   As well as wars in Israel and Egypt, there was the war in Cyprus in 1974 when half of it was taken over by Turkey.   So I guess Gibraltar’s rock lets you see what goes in and out of the Mediterranean, a pretty unbeatable place for a military base.

This is a tiny place.

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DSCF8028 1024Gib (common nick name by local people) feels like a pleasant British town with red telephone boxes, Pounds sterling (with its own slightly different coins) although people driving on the right with British style plates starting with ‘G…..’   They have their own telephone provider, so I decided not to turn on data on my smart phone, which meant looking on maps was a bit tricky. There probably isn’t much crime in Gibraltar but also I wonder if the police seem a bit harsh!

The Youth hostel I stayed it is clean and functional, dingy and somewhat dull and not much more I can say about it.   I only saw one other visitor as it seemed fairly dead.   It’s the only hostel there and I’m sure most people are only there for just the one night.    Interesting booze shopenough, there was an African chap who was running the reception called Idris, the same name as a early figure in Morocco’s history.

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This picture I saw in a window of a Jewish owned shop shows pleasant relations with different faith systems there.

It seems much of the shopping in Gibraltar is aimed at British mostly cigarettes and alcohol available tax free.  There’s a few nice gift shops as well, as restaurants offering a lot of British style food.    I was exploring around until quite late, so by the time I went to find somewhere for dinner it was 10pm and most places were closed, so I went to the local pizza hut.

Although it was a Sunday I planned to climb up to the top of the rock that morning, I saw a few sign posts for some Evangelical and Catholic churches there.   Many of the Jews here are of Moroccan descent.   The Jewish community of Gibraltar is quite interesting.   There are about 600 of them, and I saw signs around the city that they were all prepared for the coming (Purim) holidays.  I actually saw some Orthodox people coming out of a synagogue which I asked them for directions to my youth hostel.

Here’s some other well known residents who live here, the Macaques are the only apes that live in Europe, they live on top of the rock but do sometimes get nosy and explore around the town.   There’s a £4000 (!) fine if you are caught feeding them, as they are only meant to eat plain fruit and vegetables.

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The plaque shown in the top right was a memorial funded by local Gib taxi drivers for the loss of one of the monkeys a few years ago.

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Going from the top of town up to the top of the rock….

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You can clearly see Gibraltar airport runway strip which is part of the border crossing to get in here from Spain.   I think this highest pinnacle isn’t reachable by anyone, would make a great place to do climbing though

Getting down from the rock is made simple with a Swiss style cable car for a £6.75 ticket.

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I didn’t get to travel to the bottom coast of Gib as it was time to start to book my ferry.   Contrary to what I had read, to get the boat across to Tangier, actually required getting a bus a short distance to Algeciras (pretty sure thats an Arabic name too) in Spain, which I could jump on the boat just as it was starting to get dark.

Previous – 2. Spain, the bottom of Europe and the rock of Gibraltar

Next – 4. Sailing to Tangier

Magnificent Morocco – 2. Spain, the bottom of Europe and the rock of Gibraltar

My flight is booked to Malaga Spain, it seemed close on a map when I started figuring this out.

Actually, its about 3 hours on a bus away, ok this was a bad idea.   Once I got to Malaga, the people in the airport didn’t know how to guide me down, it was a case of get to Marbella first, and get another bus from there.   So that’s what I did.   I was a bit bemused why the ‘L’ in Marbella is silent, it sounds more like Marbaya when pronounced by the locals.    I wasn’t offered Spanish at school!!

DSCF8018I got to this city called La Linea De la Concepcion, not actually to Gibraltar.    This is a slightly odd corner of Europe.   Apparently relations between Gibraltar in Spain haven’t always been good some how, not sure why, I thought this was the EU not the middle east!!   The bus drops me about 200 yards in front of the border crossing.

There is a large checkpoint to get through which seems a bit odd.   I guess because its a significant place for military, as its part of the entry for vessels to the Mediterranean.

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I’ve always liked little countries.   This was true since I’ve been to Monaco, and keen on visiting Andorra and San Marino one day.   I visited the Monte Carlo, Monaco in 2005 which managed to pack in an amazing royal palace, marina, several casinos and a tennis court, oh, and a few times a year they close the roads and use the whole tiny state it as a race track.

Gibraltar’s name is actually derived from Arabic, Jabal Tarik, Jabal being mountain in Arabic, its then been ‘Spanish-ised’ to give its well known name,

Going through the border was simple, British policeman were happy with my just waving my passport to get through.  Once through you realise there is a airport and a runway which transverses across the whole of the connecting part of the country.   This must be the only country in the world that has this.

Previous 1. Magnificent Morocco trip

Next 3. Gibraltar’s rock and residents

Leonard Nimoy quotes the most famous Jew who ever lived

When the late Star Trek actor passed away a few weeks ago, I looked at some recent comments he made on twitter.   One that caught my eye was this:-

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Nimoy was an Orthodox Jew and to the best of my knowledge wasn’t a believer in Jesus, but I thought it was touching he would refer to a passage Jesus used on the sermon on the mount.

Matthew 5 : 1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I remember a while back, he revealed the Vulcan hand gesture with fingers 1&2 and 3&4 together but seperated in the middle was based on a Jewish Rabbinic thing.

Magnificent Morocco trip – part 1

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Do have a watch of this – its a great song and video

A few years ago I was watching a music video by U2 of the song Magnificent.

It caught my eye that this was filmed in what looked like a middle eastern city, the floors, carpets, mosaics and ancient buildings looked attractive, so when I researched where it was, it turns out it was done in Fez Morocco.

Whilst out in the ministry field, I learned that some of my Israeli friends had Moroccan background, several of them also speak Arabic in addition to Hebrew.   Some had used France as a stepping stone before coming to Israel, as they had migrated twice, deeming France not a satisfying place to settle.

Looking on the news there is horrendous antisemitism in Europe, specifically France in recent years.   I’ve read there are some countries that used to have Jews such as Iraq, Iran and Yemen, which only a tiny handful remain.   In addition to this I was curious to know about Morocco and how other religious groups could live in a community which is predominantly Islamic.

I like cooking.   I think Couscous is underated, and done right it can be more interesting than rice for a meal.   There is lots of good food out of this country, I’m used to a Mediterranean diet and middle eastern cooking too.

The buildings look absolutely phemonal.    I decided I have to visit this country.   Many of the budget airlines go there, but I wondered it would be a bit crazy to get a boat over from Spain and also see Gibraltar….

so here marks my first journey to the African continent…..

Next 2. Spain, the bottom of Europe and the rock of Gibraltar

Dog returns to its vomit

I’ve always wondered what it means in the bible about a dog returning to its vomit.   Proverbs 26 : 11

I’m guessing its to do with patterns of sin we often fall into.

In the last year I’ve seen actors and pop stars find the Lord, but later they get back into the drugs and a previous lifestyle only later.   Some Christians have some kind of background in new age before they are saved, and I worry when later they think it won’t hurt try Reiki (founded in Bhuddism) or hypnotism or reflexology (not recognised by mainstream medicine)

This blog article seems to cover this very well:-

https://gospelife.wordpress.com/2008/04/22/the-folly-of-returning-to-vomit/