New legal framework for Morocco’s Jewish community

Reflecting both the normalization of relations between Israel and Morocco and an interest in Jewish culture in that country, a royal decree issued on November 3, 2022 provides the Jewish population of Morocco with a new legal framework, reports Lamia El Fehaim (French Institute of Geopolitics, University of Paris VIII) in the Observatoire Pharos (January 26). Following the creation of the State of Israel and antisemitic outbursts, 250,000 Jews left Morocco to settle in the new state, and Israelis of Moroccan origin number about one million. Nevertheless, with its modest membership of 3,000 Jews, the Moroccan Jewish community is now the largest in an Arab country. The new dahir (royal decree) approves a new organization of the Jewish community into three structures: a national council to manage the affairs of the community; a commission of Moroccan Jews abroad to strengthen ties with their home country and defend Morocco’s interests abroad; and a foundation of Moroccan Jewry to preserve its heritage. All of this is to be implemented by 2023.There are political dimensions to this approach. The Moroccan authorities hope to benefit from the support of the Jewish community of Moroccan origin and to develop a potential for tourism. In addition, Morocco is counting on Israeli support on the issue of the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony largely controlled by Morocco, but whose independence has been claimed since 1976 by a movement supported by Algeria. For its part, the current Israeli government needs diplomatic progress with Arab countries in the context of tensions with the Palestinians.

Jewish quarter in Fes (source: Dr Mary Gillham Archive Project / Flickr).

Morocco’s interest in its Jewish heritage is not just political, however. According to El Fehaim, Moroccan society is becoming more open to cultural diversity, which is leading to a growing interest in the Jewish community. This is reflected in radio programs and renovations of Jewish sites, including the maintenance of cemeteries and the restoration of synagogues.

(The full article in French is available at: