Scores of rabbis affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement converged in Morocco last week to attend the largest rabbinic gathering in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, excluding Israel.
The three-day event in the medieval city of Fez began on 16 May and saw around 60 Chabad rabbis and their families, totaling about 200 people from 40 countries across the MENA and Europe.
The hosting of the event, which also marked the 73rd anniversary of the launch of the Chabad's emissary project in the North African kingdom was also symbolic in once being home to the 12th century Jewish physician and scholar Maimonides, considered one of the greatest Torah scholars of Islamic Spain.
Attendees were there to celebrate the conclusion of the last chapter of Maimonides's magnum opus, Mishneh Torah, whose study cycle had been completed around the world in recent weeks.
Historic Conference in Morocco Draws Rabbis From Africa, Middle East, Europe
Emissaries from 40 countries gatherhttps://t.co/GfphFPSTve pic.twitter.com/uLzqTVWurH
— Chabad.org (@Chabad) May 17, 2023
According to a press release, the conference aimed to strengthen "Jewish life, awareness and practice in Muslim-majority countries, as well as those with relatively small Jewish populations, and celebrates the renaissance of Jewish life in these regions."
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Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, director of Chabad of Turkiye in Istanbul and chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, was quoted on the movement's website as saying: "Rabbis coming together in a Muslim country for the purpose of strengthening Jewish life is an important indication of the future of Jewish life in the region."
Rabbi Levi Duchman, who came to the conference from the UAE, told Religion News Service (RNS) that the Jewish reality he helped create in the Gulf state can be replicated across the wider region by many of the other rabbis at the conference. Both the UAE and Morocco were among the four Arab countries that signed the Abraham Accords normalisation agreement with Israel in 2020, which led to a significant increase in Jewish tourism to both Muslim-majority countries.
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