The King’s visit to Bayt Dakira confirms his respect for Morocco’s cultural and religious diversity.
Rabat – King Mohammed VI visited Bayt Dakira, a historical landmark of Morocco’s Jewish community in Essaouira, on Wednesday, January 15.
The King met with members of the Moroccan Jewish community and offered a dinner in honor of the community.
Bayt Dakira, or the House of Memory, is a center dedicated to the legacy of Judaism in Essaouira, a city on Morocco’s Atlantic coast.
Dating back to the 19th century, the recently refurbished museum and place of worship commemorates the role of Judaism in Morocco’s national heritage.
The Moroccan monarchy is well-known for its warm relationship with the country’s Jewish population, and King Mohammed VI’s visit to the spiritual and cultural center of Bayt Dakira reflects his commitment to upholding the patrimony of religious pluralism and tolerance in Morocco.
Andre Azoulay, president of the Essaouira-Mogador Association, received the King at Bayt Dakira.
Morocco’s Chief Rabbi David Pinto and Casablanca’s Chief Rabbi Joseph Israel also greeted the King upon his arrival. King Mohammed VI then visited Bayt Dakira’s synagogue, Slat Attia, which was built in 1892.
Azoulay then presented the Qur’an and the Torah to the King and the cantor Michel Abittan performed religious songs.
The Chief Rabbi of Casablanca pronounced a blessing to King Mohammed VI.
Azoulay followed the rabbi’s blessing with a speech, affirming that the King’s visit to Essaouira spurred the city’s rebirth.
The visit symbolizes the imprint of “our secular and millenary Morocco that has been able to protect the very great diversity, which is the central wealth of our country,” Maghreb Arab Press quoted Azoulay as saying.
“This house is the house of memory and history,” Azoulay continued. “It is also that of the Moroccan compass that the world needs today, a world in search of landmarks, a world that turns its back on all those values that are those of our country under the leadership of King Mohammed VI.”
At the end of the visit, 27 high-profile members of the Moroccan Jewish community greeted the King and attended an honorary dinner at the Cite des Alizes.
The dinner guests included French comedian Gad El Maleh; Secretary General of the Jewish Community in Morocco, Serge Berdugo; the Chief Rabbi of Geneva, Switzerland, Izhak Dayan; and Executive Director of the American Sephardi Federation, Jason Guberman.
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), also attended the dinner. Several of the King’s advisors and members of the government joined the gathering, as well.
King Mohammed VI’s historic visit to Bayt Dakira not only celebrates Judaism in the city of Essaouira but in the Kingdom of Morocco as a whole.