Magnificent Morocco – 26. The Aben Danan synagogue

DSCF8348 1024When walking around some confusing alleyways a small child asked me I wanted to see the synagogue, I guess this was a popular place foreign visitors were looking for.   After being dead set against being canvassed by beggars most of the time, I decided to give this kid a few coins and go and see where this place was.

The Hebrew used here is a bit unusual as I think its transliterated from Arabic.   Ben/בן is son of in Hebrew and Iban/Aben/אבן is son of in Arabic.

Its sad to think once this had some happier times, and at the time I was travelling, this would of been the week of Purim.

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All the artifacts are here as this place has been restored.   This is not used for current religious worship, as there seems to be no practicing Jews to be seen in Fez.

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Wavy tiles and pale blue walls are beautiful and distinctly Moroccan.

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Mikvah bath.   Notice the lift up wooden trapdoor.   Reminds me of a church my parents took me where the baptism tank was hidden under a secret panel in the floor which fascinated me as a child.

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Torah scrolls still there in the ark.   This lady is a local Muslim who lives in the flat next door, it seems the Synagogue is owned by the Moroccan government as a tourist site.   I had to pay 20 Durhams plus a tip for this lady to take my photo.

There’s more information on this places of worship on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_Danan_Synagogue_(Fes)

Previous 25. Music festival to unite the Middle East and Africa – except Israel

Next 27. The Jewish cemetery of Fez

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Magnificent Morocco – 23. Jewish treasures hidden in a Islamic city

There is many interesting souvenir shops in Fez

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A cheap popular gift is a small metal teapot (which is probably made in China)

As part of a tour I was with, we were taken into this particular store;

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The man behind me is an imam, hes a Muslim priest who works part time taking tourists around Fez, and to these stores.   I think they earn most of the money in commission from the shopkeepers rather than the modest cost of the tour fee itself.

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Seder plate used for Passover

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I love this lamp!   I don’t think think these metal lamps would transport easily in my airline case though.

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Metal Torah in frame behind the shopkeeper’s counter on the wall.

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I think a lot of the Judaica items here are vintage, or recent pieces made by Muslim people who make them as a copy from another piece or from some drawings.   Its hard to see any Jews left here.

I’ll explain more about the Synagogue and cemetery and Jewish history of Fez a little later on.

Previous 22. Buying a magic carpet in Fez

Next 24. Lost in a maze in Fez

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