With this Morocco Jewish Heritage tour, you will explore Jewish Heritage in Casablanca, Marrakesh, and Essaouira. You will visit historical synagogues and ancient mellahs and trace Morocco’s deep Jewish roots.
If desired, a list of Kosher restaurants will be provided. Also, as necessary, Kosher meals can be prepared in advance and transported.
Your itinerary can be adjusted to include some Moroccan landmarks, museums, and mosques.
A Bit of History
For the past 2000 years, Jews have played an integral part in Moroccan history. They lived in areas known as mellahs, usually located near the King’s Palaces and have held many important positions in government and in commerce.
Before the founding of Israel in l948, the population of Moroccan Jews was around 250,000 and the country was known to have the highest population of Jews of any Arab country. Since that time there have been waves of emigration and today the total population of Moroccan Jews is around 2500. Most of the Jews who have remained in Morocco reside in Casablanca.
Day 1 : Airport to Casablanca
On your arrival at the airport, you will be met by your driver and your tour guide who will drive you to your hotel. You can have dinner in your hotel or the restaurant of your choice.
If desired, Kosher meals can be delivered to your hotel room.
Day 2 : CASABLANCA
After breakfast, you will meet your driver and your Morocco Jewish tour guide and you can begin your tour. Casablanca was the centerpiece of Morocco’s once vibrant Jewish community and many synagogues remain today. Drive to the mellah and the Jewish cemetery. Visit the Beth-El Synagogue noted for its stained glass windows, gigantic crystal chandelier, and exquisitely decorated Hebrew scrolls. Em Habanim Synagogue is located close by and dates to 1940.
Although most of Casablanca’s Jews do not live in the mellah anymore, there is still a Kosher bakery located close to the Em Habanim Synagogue and a Kosher butcher on Rue d’Alger.
Stop for lunch at a restaurant of your choice. Casablanca has some excellent Kosher restaurants such as Cercle de L’alliance and Club le SOC.
In the afternoon, drive to .the Museum of Moroccan Judaism, located in the Oasis section of Casablanca. It is the only museum devoted to Judaism in the Arab world. Housed in a building that was a former orphanage, it was opened in l997 by the Judeo-Moroccan Cultural Heritage Foundation and contains ritual objects, clothing, tools and synagogue reconstructions plus a large photographic exhibit.
In the evening, drive along the Corniche and visit the Tahiti Beach Club, once a local Jewish hangout. Then head back to your hotel and prepare for dinner at a restaurant of your choice.
Day 3 : ESSAOUIRA
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and meet up with your driver and tour guide. Before heading to Essaouira, you may want to take a tour of the Hassan II Mosque. This mosque, also known as the Grande Mosque, is built on a promontory and looks out over the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest mosque in Morocco and the largest functioning mosque in Africa. The minaret is the 2nd tallest in the world at 210 meters.
After the tour you will head towards Essaouira. You will follow the coastline and drive over the rugged coastal highway. As you approach Essaouira, you will be greeted by many seagulls as it is an active fishing port.
When you reach Essaouira, head to your hotel or riad and have dinner at a restaurant of your choice. There are no Kosher restaurants in Essaouira. As an alternative, try one of the restaurants along the beachfront that grill fresh fish.
Day 4 : ESSAOUIRA
In the morning, after breakfast, you will meet your driver and tour guide and begin your tour of this port city.
In the 18th Century, the Jewish population grew as trade expanded between Europe and Morocco. During that time, the Sultan established the mellah.
In the late 1940s, there was a mass exodus from countries such as Israel, Canada and France due to changes in trade and the founding of Israel. Today there are no Jews in the mellah. However, many Moroccan Jews own homes in and around the city.
Although much of the mellah is in disrepair, you can find Art Deco buildings with the Star of David carved into the façade, as well as numerous synagogues and a former Talmud School.
There are some notable Synagogues to visit on your tour.
The Chaim Pinto Synagogue is located in a small alley off of the Rue Mellah. Rabbi Pinto was known for miracles and on the anniversary of his death, Jews from around the world come on a pilgrimage to pray at his grave. The Synagogue is active and is used when tour groups visit the city.
The Synagogue Slat Lkahal was built in 1865 and is also known as the Community Synagogue of Mogador. It was known as the synagogue of the poor and served as a Hebrew learning facility.
The Simon Attias Synagogue, in the heart of the Medina, has been fully renovated and also has a wonderful exhibit on Jewish life in Essaouira.
Another destination is the walled Jewish Cemetery which is located at the edge of town, beyond the mellah. It is a memorable relic of historic Jewish Essaouira.
In the afternoon, you may want to browse through the medina and the old fishing port before heading back to your hotel. Have dinner at a restaurant of your choice.
Day 5 : MARRAKESH
After breakfast, depart Essaouira with your driver and tour guide and head to Marrakesh. Marrakesh is also known as the ‘Red City’ due to the pervasive red color of the sandstone used to construct many of its buildings.
Along the highway, look for the forests of argan trees. The argan oil that Moroocco is well known for comes from these trees. Look for the acrobatic goats who climb and eat the leaves and fruits of these trees.
Once you arrive, head directly to your hotel or riad for dinner and overnight stay. Marrakesh has several excellent Kosher restaurants.
Day 6 : MARRAKESH
In the morning, after breakfast, begin your tour of the city with your driver and your tour guide.
The mellah in Marrakesh was created in 1558 outside the walls of the El Badi Palace by Jewish exiles who fled the Spanish Inquisition. It is circled by a wall and located next to the royal Kasbah. It used to be one of the main commercial areas of the city.
The Jewish population has dropped from 30,000 in the late 1940’s to the present day number of 120. Today, most of the Jews who remain in Marrakesh no longer live in the mellah but in the newer parts of the City.
Your tour begins in the old mellah. Enter the mellah through the stone arch, known as the Ben Attar Gate, which was named after the Rabbi Mordechai Ben Attar. Note the balconies on the second floor. The Star of David is engraved on many buildings and the streets have returned to their original Hebrew names. There are a few shops including a Kosher butcher.
Within the mellah is the old synagogue, known as the Slat Al Azama Synagogue. It has been a sanctuary for generations. Children from the mountain villages used to travel to learn about the holy scriptures of the Torah.
Proceed to the Miaara Cemetery which is a popular destination on this heritage tour. It is the gravesite of many famous rabbis.
Have lunch at a restaurant of your choice or the well known Kosher restaurant, Dar Ima, which is located near the Yves St. Laurent Museum.
In the afternoon, visit some smaller museums such as Musee Tiskiwin which has an exhibition on the old caravan routes. Or visit some of Marrakesh’s historical sites such as the Yves St. Laurent Gardens and the Badi Palace. The Koutoubia Mosque, Menara Gardens and the Saadian Tombs are also close by and also worth a visit.
Before returning to your hotel, explore the Old Town and the Jamaa el-Fna Square. The square is lively 24 hours a day with dancers, musicians, and artisans.
In the evening, have dinner at a restaurant of your choice.
Day 7 : OURIKA VALLEY/MARRAKESH
In the morning, after breakfast, leave Marrakesh with your driver and tour guide and head into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains towards Ourika Valley. Your destination is the memorial of Rabbi Schlomo Bel Hench.
Ourika Valley was home to 300 Jewish families in the 15th Century. There were 2 synagogues, Jewish schools and rabbis to perform circumcisions, bar-mitvahs, and weddings.
Today the last remaining Jew, who is also a Berber, is Hananiyah Elfassie. His job is to guard the tomb.
Rabbi Schlomo Bel Hench died approximately 500 years ago but is revered like a saint to both Jews and Muslims. He is a legend and people believe he had mystical powers. There is folklore that, on one occasion, he was able to halt the setting of the sun in order to return home safely from settling a dispute in Marrakesh.
Then drive to Setti Fatma in the valley for lunch at a restaurant by the river. If Kosher meals are desired, they will be prepared in Marrakesh and transported in the refrigerator of the car.
Upon your return to Marrakesh, relax with a Turkish Bath (Hamman) and have a massage.
In the evening, return to your hotel and have dinner at a restaurant of your choice.
Day 8 : MARRAKESH/AIRPORT
After breakfast, you will leave Marrakesh early in the morning and your driver will transport you to the airport in Casablanca to catch your flight home.
The tour includes the following sites:
Casablanca – Essaouira – Marrakech – Ourika Valleya- Casablanca
|STARTING POINT||CASABLANCA AIRPORT|
|POINT OF RETURN||CASABLANCA + AIRPORT|
HOTELS & RIADS
|CASABLANCA:|| 5 star luxe (suite)
|ESSAOUIRA:||5 star luxe (suite)
|MARRAKECH:|| 5 star luxe (suite)
For 2 people:
- 5 star luxe (suite) Hotel $ 7,000
- 5 star hotel $ 5,000
- 4 star hotel $ 4,000
- 3 star hotel $ 3,000
For the price of one person or more than 2 people, please write to us.
The same tour is available for $ 650 less but you will only be with the driver for the duration of the trip.
However, in the cities of Marrakech and Essaouira, a local guide will accompany you with the driver for a day trip.