In Morocco, Jewish culture will be taught at school

Even before normalizing its diplomatic relations with Israel, Morocco launched a school reform that integrates the teaching of the history and culture of the Jewish community. A first in the Arab world where Judaism is a taboo subject.

A new program

From 2021, primary school students will have a course in Arabic on the history of the Jewish presence in Morocco. The introduction of new chapters in the educational curriculum will also concern high school students. This approach is part of a vast program to overhaul school textbooks launched in 2014. It involves “highlight the diversity of Moroccan identity”, as emphasized by Fouad Chafiqi, director of school programs at the Moroccan Ministry of Education.

“This introduction is a first in the Arab world; it has the effect of a tsunami”

Serge Berdugo, Secretary General of the Council of the Jewish Community of the Kingdom

to AFP

“A vaccine against extremism”

Present in architecture, music or cooking, “the Jewish tributary” Moroccan culture will thus appear in the new social education textbooks for the primary cycle. According to the first information relayed by Agence France Presse, a chapter will be dedicated to Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah, known as Mohammed III, who in the 18th century boosted the Jewish presence in the city of Essaouira (South), which has since become the only city ​​in the land of Islam with a predominantly Jewish population, with around thirty synagogues.

The introduction of Jewish identity into the school curriculum is hailed by Jewish associations which speak of“a vaccine against extremism”. Although at this stage the reform has not elicited much comment, as a rule it is rather well regarded in the educational environment.

“This will make it possible to forge the perception and construction of future citizens aware of their plural heritage”

Mohammed Hatimi, professor of history in Morocco

to AFP

Morocco, an exception

In the Arab world, Morocco remains a rare case insofar as “this country has never erased its Jewish memory“, as Zhor Rehihil, the curator of the Museum of Moroccan Judaism in Casablanca, unique in the region, points out.

Present in Morocco since Antiquity, the Jewish community, which remains the largest in North Africa, has grown over the centuries, particularly with the arrival of Jews expelled from Spain by the Catholic kings from 1492.

It reached about 250,000 people at the end of the 1940s, or about 10% of the Moroccan population. Many Jews left Morocco after the creation of Israel in 1948, and there are around 3,000 left.

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