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The Jewish cemetery of Fez, an emblem of cultural concord


Before he died, Johanna Devico Ohana’s father requested her to vow him one factor: “if I ever die when I’m in France”, he insisted, “deliver me to Fez”.

He additionally requested her to handle the Jewish cemetery, a job that was his duty earlier than he handed away. His daughter agreed to each requests, and her father is laid to relaxation within the cemetery she now maintains.

‘We lived in concord’

“My father was a lover of Morocco and a lover of Fez”, says Ms. Ohana, who was born and raised within the metropolis. “We lived in concord. There was no stress. We all knew we had been Jews, Muslims, or Catholics, and we by no means had any issues on that aspect”.

Located in northern Morocco, on the Wadi Fez, the town was based within the ninth century, and was the traditional capital of Morocco for a whole lot of years. In the yr 809, King Idris II inspired Jews to maneuver to Fez, so the town may gain advantage from their abilities.

Today, Fez is understood for its faith, artwork, sciences, craftwork, and commerce actions. The Fez Medina, usually described as Morocco’s cultural and religious centre, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It additionally retains a mixture of cultures and identification, and a Jewish neighbourhood, named ‘Mellah’. The phrase actually means ‘salt’ or ‘saline space’, in reference to both a saline water supply within the space or to the previous presence of a salt warehouse, however ‘Mellah’ is now used because the title for Jewish quarters in different Moroccan cities, together with Rabat and Marrakech.  

The Jewish cemetery, nestled within the Mellah, is distinguished by its semi-cylindrical tombs, which seize the historical past of Morocco’s flourishing Jewry.

A ‘convergence of confluents’

The age-old intermingling of peoples made Fez an acceptable location for the ninth Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), which befell in November 2022.

Opening the occasion, Andre Azoulay, the senior adviser to King Mohammed VI of Morocco – and father of UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay – who’s himself Jewish, declared that Morocco “is constructed round a mannequin of openness, concord and synergy that has seen the convergence of Arab-Islamic, Amazigh and Saharan-Hassanian confluents, and that has, on the similar time, been enriched by African, Andalusian, Hebrew and Mediterranean tributaries”.

When requested about how she felt when she learnt that Fez was chosen to host the UNAOC ninth Forum, Ms. Ohana stated she felt proud that Fez was chosen: “for Morocco, it displays precisely the truth of our picture, our tradition”.

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