Jewish Museum, Casablanca
King Mohamed V with a Local Rabbi

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Jewish Heritage                                        
"There are no Jews in Morocco, only Moroccans," replied King Mohammed V to the German representative
who demanded a list of Jewish residents during World War II. His reply reflected the fact that Jews and
Muslims have lived together in Morocco for more than a millennium, and the Jews were residents of the land
for seven centuries or more before the coming of the Arabs.  Many strands of history and culture have gone
into the making of Morocco's people during the past three thousand years. Waves of settlers joined the
native Berber tribes: Phoenicians in the 9th century BCE; Jews, Romans in the 1st century CE; and Arabs in
the 7th century. During the later Middle Ages, other Muslim and Jewish immigrants came from the east and
from the Iberian Peninsula, especially following the expulsions from Spain in 1492 and 1609.

Together, Muslims and Jews forged a common spiritual culture and an artistic culture that reflects the
dominant aesthetics of Islamic art. Muslim and Jewish artists have worked for patrons of both religious
groups, and both groups share folk and religious practices such as the wearing of amulets and the
veneration of the graves of saintly individuals. For centuries, Jews lived under Muslim rule as dhimmi, a
protected minority with communal self-rule. They gained equal civil rights in 1956, when Morocco ended four
decades of Spanish and French colonial rule and became an independent state.

Today, some four to five thousand Jews remain in Morocco, while the rest have left, most of them during the
1950s and '60s, bound for Israel, France, Canada, and other countries. What binds the entire community
together are their common religious practices and customs, frequent visits to Morocco, and loyalty to the
country and its king.
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