The Jewish community expressed the closeness they feel with the “Moroccan spirit” and their attachment to the Alaouite kingdom.
Rabat – Jewish pilgrims, Moroccans and foreigners, gathered in Rabat at the Jewish cemetery Thursday evening for the “hiloula” celebration of Rabbi Eliezer Davila.
At the hiloula, an occasion celebrating the life of a revered Jewish leader, the community chanted religious songs and prayed for blessings over Morocco.
The group prayed for special blessings on King Mohammed VI and “all members of the illustrious royal family,” reports Maghreb Arab Press. They also prayed for the souls of the King’s father and grandfather, King Hassan II and King Mohammed V.
Praying for Morocco, the audience asked God to ward off drought in the kingdom. The community also expressed the closeness they feel with the “Moroccan spirit” and their attachment to the Alaouite kingdom.
The head of the Jewish community in Rabat and Sale, Henri Abikzer, gave a statement to the press, explaining the hiloula. “It is an annual occasion that brings together hundreds of Jewish pilgrims from here and elsewhere to meet and reaffirm their feelings of belonging to Morocco and this, in an atmosphere of spirituality,” he said.
Rabbi Eliezer Davila served Rabat’s Jews in the 18th century and died in 1761. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Rabat.
As well as saying prayers, the Jewish community sang patriotic songs and popular songs from their community.
Moroccan Jews celebrate multiple hiloulas throughout the country for great leaders of Judaism. Earlier in the month, Jews in the central province of Midelt honored the life of Rabbi Itshak Abihssira with a hiloula celebration.
One of the most popular hiloulas in Morocco is for Rabbi Haim Pinto in Essaouira. Pinto died in 1845, and his hiloula attracts approximately 1,500 Jewish pilgrims to the Moroccan port city annually in September.
Morocco’s population of Jews, which once numbered in the hundreds of thousands, decreased dramatically after the establishment of the state of Israel. Many Moroccan Jews immigrated to Israel. Today, about 2,000 Moroccan Jews still live in the country.