Morocco’s little idyll of Jewish-Muslim coexistence

Posted on January 8th, 2018
From economist.com. This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline "Shalom alaykum"

A moment of religious harmony


Essaouira sets an example for the rest of the Middle East

 


ONCE a year the little seaside town of Essaouira, in Morocco, reclaims its lost Jewish community. Sephardic trills echo from its whitewashed synagogues. The medieval souks fill with Jewish skullcaps. Rabbis and cantors wish Muslims “Shabbat Shalom” and regale them with Hebrew incantations. “It’s our culture,” says a merchant from Marrakech, who travelled 200km (124 miles) to hear them this year.

The revival is the initiative of André Azoulay, a 76-year-old Jew from Essaouira (one of just three) and a former counsellor to Morocco’s kings. Each autumn he stages a colourful festival of Andalusian music aimed at bringing hundreds of Jews and Muslims together for a weekend of concerts and dialogue. Locals pack the small stadium to watch Hebrew cantors and Koran-reciters sing arm-in-arm. Israelis and Palestinians flock there, too. “Essaouira is what the Middle East once was and might yet be again,” says Mr Azoulay.

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The Converso Comeback

Posted on January 1st, 2018
By Suzanne Selengut for Tablet Magazine


Hispanic crypto-Jews use social media and DNA testing to reconnect with their heritage


When retired civil servant Carl Montoya arrives for prayers at Mikveh Israel Synagogue in Philadelphia, he has a routine. He expertly wraps tefillin, dons his Sephardic prayer shawl, and greets his many friends in the pews. The Hebrew prayers can be tricky for him, but he is slowly mastering them all, together with the rest of Jewish ritual life. As a convert to Conservative Judaism and an active member of an Orthodox synagogue, Montoya has definitely broken from his past as a Catholic with deep roots in New Mexico’s historic Hispanic community. But what makes his story truly remarkable is not just that he is a Jew by choice, but that he is a Jew by birth.

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A Year After Trump’s Election, Jewish-Muslim Group Takes A More Pointed Approach To Fighting Hate

Posted on December 25th, 2017
BY AMY SARA CLARK for The Jewish Week


Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom ramps up activism in response to growing anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim attacks.


When Sheryl Olitzky and Atiya Aftab started Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, it was before Donald Trump’s travel ban targeted predominantly Muslim countries. It was before hundreds of white supremacists carrying Tiki torches chanted “Jews will not replace us” during a rally in Charlottesville, Va.

It was before more than 100 tombstones were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, and before reports of mosques being vandalized and thugs grabbing hijabs off of women’s heads had become commonplace.

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Mourning the Loss of a Non-Jewish Parent

Posted on December 18th, 2017
Gayle Redlingshafer Berman for Jewish Book Council


"Ima, Aunt Angela is trying to reach you. I know it's grandma! I want to go to her funeral!" My 13-year-old son was home manning the phone in Efrat while I was busy teaching piano to American girls at a school in Jerusalem. My mother had been ill for many years with dementia, that terrifying disease that steals the memory and dignity of its victims. Long before we had made Israel our home 3 1/2 years earlier, each day we had expected the call from Illinois telling us that her body had given up the fight. That moment had apparently arrived. Not having my sister's U.S. number in my Israeli cell phone, I simply continued teaching my piano student.

Soon my cell phone rang. I was sure my sister was indeed calling to tell me that what my son had suspected was true. I told my student, "I'll be right back," knowing I could handle what I had been anticipating for years. "Dad died this morning!" I couldn't believe my ears! No, she meant "Mom," my head screamed! "Dad?" I yelled! "Yes, Dad."

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My Family Celebrated Hanukkah with Our Non-Jewish Friends. This Is What Happened

Posted on December 11th, 2017
BY MELISSA HENRIQUEZ for Kveller


Salad fix-ins? Check.

Cookies? Check.

Menorah, candles, and dreidels? Check, check, check.

My husband, kids, and I were headed to family dinner at our dear friends’ house. Though she and her husband aren’t Jewish, my friend is a history teacher who loves learning about and sharing multicultural traditions.

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