Moroccan Jews: The history of Jews in Morocco
The History of Jews community in Morocco

History of Moroccan Jews: The settlements of Jews have been to North Africa after the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem in the year 587 BC and then the third century in general. Later, there was the direct influence in all between the Jewish groups and Amazigh Tribes (Berbers). And when Jews and Muslims of Spain and Portugal were expelled, about 25 to 30 thousand Jews came into Morocco with some family names that still carry the Spanish cities.

The Moroccan Jews are divided into two sections: the Maghurashim (meaning in Hebrew the persecuted ones) who are the Jews of Iberian peninsula and Tashabim who lived in Morocco before and after the Arab-Islamic conquest.
Jews Cemetery in Tangier, Morocco

Many of the Tashabim ones traces their origins to Amazigh people (Berbers) who converted to Judaism and sticked to it more than Berber Christians. And over their stand in North Africa, it appeared that there were numbers of small Jewish kingdoms as in Algeria and Morocco, at the time of the first Arab and Islamic conquest especially in the beginning of the eighth century, meaning the one founded in Sijilmasa and another that took place in the Aures region in Algeria under the leadership of the shrewd priestess, Tihya, who resisted the Islamic conquest for four years until she was Killed in the battle.

As for the Maghrasim, they are, as we said, the Jews who fled from Spain and Portugal after they were expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492 (although some of them came earlier). They noticeably settled in major cities and towns in which they have (their seperate temples and) neighborhoods or quarters that were later called Mallah.
Here are some historical and commercial cities and towns with private Jewish quarters. They are Marrakesh, Essaouira, Tanger, Casablanca (known in the center of the old Medina with up to 30 houses), Fes, Meknes, Rabat, Tinghir, Sefro, damnat, Chafchaouen, Tetouan, etc. Uncommonly, Ouajda has no special Mellah because Jews, there, mixed with Muslims in neighborhoods unlike Essaouira where Jews were, not a long ago, more than the half of the city’s population as a unique precedent.
Also, Moroccan Jews have shrines, sacred cemeteries and temples in many small villages like Tinfou (East of Zagora), Ourika, and Ouajan (in the region of Agadir). This means they used to live even in the countrysides and mountainous regions. So if most of them lived a modest life and mastered various traditional crafts, then their elite was associated with commerce, money and business. Indeed, a study by Nicole El-Serfati confirms that the Wattasid, Saadian and Alawite sultans who ruled Morocco over the past five centuries relied on their financial, commercial and advisory matters experiences like Andre Azoulay (the economic advisor of the king Hassan II and the current king Mohamed VI even though the Jews were a minority in the Muslim countries.
Finally, After the establishment of the Israeli state and the end of the French and Spanish protectorate in Morocco in 1956, many Moroccan Jews immigrated to Israel while some of them preferred to settle in France, one group immigrated to Canada, and another to Spain. This made the number decreased to about 20 thousand people in the early eighties of the last century. Today they are less than six thousand people nevertheless the Jews of Morocco are still the largest Jewish community in the “Arab countries”.