The “historic” Chanukah gathering to celebrate the festive holiday included two emissaries appointed by King Mohammed VI.
A “miracle” happened in Morocco on the seventh day of Chanukah. On Sunday, two appointees of King Mohammed VI joined over 800 Jewish community members in Casablanca to celebrate the festive holiday.
The gathering, called “historic” in the media, was widely publicized on Arabic news sites. Morocco World News even included a short explanation of Chanukah along with the two most common English spellings for the holiday.
“Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is an annual Jewish religious celebration involving prayer and traditional fried dishes,” wrote Morocco World News. “It means the festival of lights and it seeks to celebrate the re-dedication of the Holy Temple.”
The event was organized by Jeunesse Chabad of Morocco, the Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco, and David Hamelech Synagogue.
The participants warmly welcomed Rachid Afirat, Casablanca-Anfa’s prefecture governor, and Said Ahmidouch, the Wali of the Casablanca region.
“This sends a strong message of peace and tolerance,” Rabbi Levi Banon, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary who directs Jeunesse Chabad of Morocco, said. “Morocco, under the leadership and inspiration of King Mohammed VI, has been a true example for the world of what coexistence between all peoples looks like.”
The festivities, which were held at a hotel in Casablanca, included children performing Chanukah songs and local holiday delicacies, including sfenj, “the Maghrebi fried doughnut traditionally eaten on Chanukah to recall the miracle of the oil,” Chabad said.
The giant Chabad menorah was lit by Serge Berdugo, the King’s ambassador-at-large and president of the Council of Jewish Communities. Visiting from abroad were Judge David Banon, a leading rabbi of Jewish communities in Montreal, and Rabbi Mendel Raskin, director of Chabad of Cote St. Luc, near Montreal, both Moroccan Jewish expats, according to Chabad.
For over 2,000 years, the Jewish community had a respected place in Moroccan society with a population high in 1950 of 350,000. Following World War II, the Moroccan Jewish population significantly decreased with mass emigration to Israel, France, and the US. Today, there are approximately 3,000 Jews still living in the Arab country, mostly in Casablanca.