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November 12, 2020 1:38 pm

Morocco Warmly Praised for National School Curriculum Teaching Judaism

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

The Moroccan city of Essaouira was home to a historic Jewish community. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Morocco has introduced a component covering its storied Jewish community into the national curriculum for school students, earning praise from Jewish leaders for the North African nation’s positive approach to pluralism.

A statement earlier this month from the Association Mimouna — a Moroccan NGO that promotes awareness of the country’s Jewish culture — explained that the curriculum for primary school students focuses “on the Hebraic/Jewish cultural component enshrined in the constitution, the historical royal visit to Bayt Dhakira and a short glimpse of the history of Moroccan Jews.”

Inaugurated last January, Bayt Dhakira is described as a “spiritual and heritage space” for Moroccan Judaism that is based in the historic Jewish quarter in the city of Essaouria.

“After almost 14 years of hard work, determination and perseverance, Moroccan Judaism has finally made it to the Moroccan educational system,” the Association Mimouna said.

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On Thursday, two US Jewish leaders warmly praised King Mohammed VI of Morocco for his commitment “to perpetuate the Judeo-Moroccan legacy as an integral part of the Moroccan identity.”

In a joint statement, Jason Guberman of the American Sephardi Federation and Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations emphasized that the curriculum had been “released without outside prompting or fanfare in the Western press, a testament to this development being a genuine expression of Moroccan values.”

“Ensuring Moroccan students learn about the totality of their proud history of tolerance, including Morocco’s philosemitism, is an inoculation against extremism,” the statement remarked. “We hope other countries take note and emulate the Kingdom’s exceptional example.”

Morocco has taken several steps in recent years to embrace its Jewish culture and history into school studies, including a course on the Nazi Holocaust that was incorporated in 2018.

Almost 500,000 Jews of Moroccan origin — the vast majority — presently live in Israel. The size of the community in Morocco is currently estimated at 2,500.

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