A Moroccan university, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Marrakesh, established the first campus synagogue in the Arab world last week.
Initiated by the Mimouna Association and the American Sephardi Federation, both organisations claim that, not only was a synagogue built on a campus in the Arab world for the first time ever, but it was also constructed directly next to a new mosque “with only a wall between them,” as a symbol of religious unity.
Elmehdi Boudra, founder and president of Mimouna, told The Media Line, “It’s not a big synagogue, but it can have a minyan [the quorum of 10 required for public Jewish prayer], and the Torah scrolls and all the religious articles were donated by the Jewish communities of Fez and Marrakech.”
“Moroccan Judaism has really been a part of Moroccan society for 2,000 years. Morocco is also a Jewish land and we celebrate the diversity of Morocco traditionally,” he said.
Rabbi Elie Abadie, senior rabbi of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, who was in attendance at the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, said, “The significance of opening a synagogue at the University in Morocco, especially one that is named after His Majesty the King, is of great importance.”
He added, “It gives recognition of the Jewish community and Judaism as part and parcel of the Moroccan population and academic institutions.”
According to The Jerusalem Post, guests at the inauguration ceremony also included Magda Haroun, the president of the Egyptian Jewish Community, and Jacky Kadoch, the president of the Jewish community of Marrakech-Essaouira.
Morocco and Israel resumed diplomatic relations in late 2020 as part of a tripartite agreement in which the US recognised Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara disputed by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.
The pace of rapprochement between Morocco and Israel has accelerated since the diplomatic normalisation that took place in December 2020 within the framework of the Abraham Accords, which were concluded between Israel and several Arab countries with the support of Washington.