The start of the history of the jews of North-Africa coincides
with the creation of Carthage by the Phoenicians, 28 centuries
ago, and the de veloment of trading posts from Tunisia to
Witness accounts exist about the trading practices of the
jews with the Romans as soon as the 4th century BC.
These first jewish communities will be joined by the jews
of the first diaspora at the destruction of the Temple of
Jerusalem, in 581 BC.
Towns like Sala (near the actual Rabat) and Ifrane become
important trading centers for the Moroccan jews in the business
of gold and salt.
In the beginning of the christian era, the Roamns invade the
region, without much resistance from the berber and jewish
tribes, and rename Morocco "Mauritania".
Archeological digs show a strong jewish presence in these
new roman provinces.
Starting from the 2nd century, christianity begins to penetrate
in Morocco and it will go as far as find a sympathetic ear
in some jewish tribes.
II- PRE-ISLAMIC ERA
In the beginning of the 5th century, the Vandals begin to
invade Morocco, and in 430 , chase away the Romans from North-Africa.
Under the Vandal occupation,the jewish enjoy a great freedom
of faith for a century.
In 533 , came the turn of the Byzantine chistians to invade
The jews will then live through a very dark era, with forced
conversions,harassment, and persecutions, but even that will
not stop the coming of the jews from Spain who were persecuted
there by the Wisigoths.
The arabic conquest begins at the start of the 7th century,
against the opposition of the jewish tribes, but that will
not stop the creation of the Great Arabic Maghreb.
In 711 , the rabs cross the Strait of Gibraltar and begin
the conquest of the Iberic Peninsula, with an army made of,
in part , jewish soldiers.
During almost 4 centuries,the jews participate in the boost
of the arabic civilization in North-Africa.
Some of them are assigned to high-ranking positions , with
some highs and lows, as in the 11th century, under the Almoravid
This same period will also witness the influence ,as far as
Morocco, of spanish judaism.
In the middle of the 12th century, a new dynasty, the Almohads
, settle by force in Morocco.
Under their reign, the jews in Morocco and even Spain, will
suffer the worst of persecutions.
In 1165 , the Dayan of Fes is burned alive.
The jews will be forced to wear distinct clothing, blue and
large, and the head covered by a yellow shawl.
From the 13th to the 14th century, under the Merinid dynasty,
the jewish condition will be much better.
Once again, they regain their great influence and high-ranking
positions :ministers or ambassadors.
In 1438 , the jews of Fes are accused of violating a mosque
and are force to settle in a new neighborhood, near a salt
mine, that will be name the mellah.
All the jews, rich and poor, must settle there.
Many jews flee then to Spain.
Regardless , the sephardic judaism will spread all around
In Morocco, it is also the time of the rivalry between spanish
and portuguese jewish communities, and also the indigenous
During the 16th and 17th centuries, under the Saadian dynasty,
the persecutions will be back.
Conversions , harassments and exorbitant taxes.
What's more, several epidemics will cause thousands of deaths
in the jewish population.
In spite of that, some jewish dignitaries will keep their
Near the end of the reign of the Saadians anarchy will help
the rise of the Alaouit dynasty, still in power to this day
Under their rule, the condition of the jews will greatly improve.
The jews will occupy very influent positions more and more.
When in 1704 the english seize Gibraltar , numerous jews settled
In 1765 , the Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah builds Mogador
and gives several jewish families, commercial privileges that
will help towards the development of the town.
The beginning of the 19th century confirms the opening of
Morocco to the Occident and the emigration of many moroccan
jews in England and America.
In 1803 the first school of the Israelite Alliance is opened
in Tetuan,in 1865 in Tangier and in 1867 in Mogador.
The end of the 19th century will be most troubled, riots in
Sefrou (more than 40 jewish deaths) , looting of the mellah
in Mogador , persecution of communities in Fes, Meknes, Demnat
IV- THE PROTECTORATE
In 1880 , the Madrid conference consecrates the penetration
of the great powers into Morocco.
In 1906 , the Algeciras conference gives shape to the spanish
and french zones of influence.
In 1907 , in Morocco, french nationals are assassinated.
These murders igive the needed excuse to general Lyautey to
begin the occupation of Morocco.
In 1912 , a protectorate treaty is signed with France.
Fighting remaining resistance will last ,however,until 1927.
Thanks to the Israelite Alliance,the teaching of the french
language will take on great importance within the jewish community.
Creation of newspapers, printing shops and editing houses.
Hospitals , clinics and charity organizations.
The protectorate will also the emigration of moroccan jews
to North and Latin America.
Sionism will develop as soon as 1924 and a conference will
take place in Casablanca in 1930.
Help will be organized for the refugees fleeing nazi Europe.
After the surrender of 1940 , Vichy applies the laws of exception
with numerus clausus in government jobs, education and other
sectors of the economy.
The futur Mohammed V will support the jews in many occasions.
In november 1942 , the americans land in Morocco during Operation
Torch, they are welcomed with great joy by the jewish population.
Vichy laws and the statute of jews will only be repealed several
months later .
In 1948 , the state of Israel is born.
Some violence takes place in Morocco,killing 40 jews.
These riots trigger the beginning of massive jewish emigration
The sultan Mohammed V is deposed and forced into exile by
french autorities in 1953.
In 1954 , riots broke out in several towns, some jewish schools
are torched and some mellah looted.
Mohammed V is returned to Morocco and the independence is
declared in 1956.
Jews occupy important duties within the moroccan government
The hostility of the Istiqlal Party towards Israel and the
action of sionist movements will favor a new emigration, often
in clandestinity in destination of Israel , France , Canada
and the United States.
But all these jews, now settled in Paris, Jerusalem , Montreal
or New York , still keep a part of their heart in Morocco
where their ancestors have lived for more than 3 millenia.
Nota : the text you have just read in no way claims to be
a complete history of the Moroccan Jews or Judaism.
It is at best a summary and can only feature the great lines
and events of that history.
Help us,with your sources,anecdotes, documents and testimonials
to enrich this magnificent saga , the saga of the Moroccan