A record number of Jews from around the world have come on pilgrimage to Morocco to commemorate the death anniversary of an esteemed Rabbi, Haim Pinto.
According to Morocco World News, more than 2,000 members of the Moroccan Jewish community visited the coastal city of Essaouira last week to celebrate the Yom Hiloula (Day of Festivity) of Saint Rabbi Haim Pinto, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
Although the annual event, which falls on the 26th of Elul – the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar – attracts pilgrims to Pinto's grave in the city's old Jewish cemetery, this year was the highest so far.
A video posted on Facebook by Moroccan author Ahmed Ghayat shows hundreds of Moroccan Jews taking part in the ceremony. They can be seen singing and dancing, with some carrying pictures of King Mohammed VI and waving the national flag of Morocco.
"More than 2000 pilgrims for the Hiloula of Rabbi Haim Pinto in Essaouira … The highest number ever reached!" the video's caption said.
Moroccan Jews celebrating the Hilula (Yarzheit) of Rabbi Haim Pinto in his historic synagogue in Essaouira الصويرة Morocco🇲🇦
Rabbi Pinto was a well-known community spiritual leader in the 18th-19th C and comes from a distinguished rabbinic familypic.twitter.com/86KYMFXLlA
— Zechariah Shar'abi | זכריה | زكريا (@ZechariahSharab) September 20, 2022
According to the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS), Rabbi Pinto was born in the Moroccan city of Agadir in 1749 but spent most of his life in Essaouira and "was known throughout the country and beyond for his great Torah knowledge and for performing miracles."
The large number this year is likely attributed to the North African country's decision in 2020 to re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel, where many Moroccan Jews reside. Morocco is also home to North Africa's largest Jewish community and is the ancestral homeland of some 700,000 Israelis.