The exhibition, running until May 2021, offers artistic visual content to celebrate Jews in Morocco, their culture, and their customs.
Rabat – Museum of the Art and History of Judaism (mahJ) in Paris is offering art enthusiasts the opportunity to explore its “Juifs du Maroc,” or “Jews of Morocco” exhibition, which celebrates the culture of the Jewish community in the North African country.
Running since June, the exhibition includes black-and-white photographs demonstrating the depth of Jewish culture and customs through attire.
The collection features the work of late French photographer and painter Jean Besancenot, who did not miss the opportunity to take notes and photographs during his visits to Morocco during the French protectorate.
“During a trip to Morocco in 1934 he took photographs of traditional dress. With a grant from the Foreign Ministry, he stayed there again in 1935 and 1936, photographing men and women in different communities and carefully documenting their ceremonial dress,” mahJ wrote.
The photos, now treasured pieces of art, show women and men from rural Jewish communities posing with unique clothes.
The museum recalled that the artist traveled to Morocco’s southernmost region, where the majority of the country’s Jews lived.
For the musuem, the photos are “an irreplaceable testimonty to Jewish culture in Morocco, particulary female costumes and jewellery, whose forms are sometimes the same as those of Muslim women.”
The museum will continue to display the free photography exhibition until May 2021.
The number of Jews living in Morocco is estimated at 2,000, a marginal figure compared to more than 200,000 in 1948.
Basancenot’s photographs “are a priceless record of rural Jewish communities in Morocco no longer in existence,” the museum wrote.
The remaining Jewish communities are mostly spread across mellah, or Jewish quarters in ancient walled cities, in the major cities of Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, Meknes, Tangier, and Fez.
Last year in November, The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that as many 432 Moroccan Jews immigrated from Morocco to Israel in the last eight years.
The number of Jews living in Arab countries at the end of World War II stood at 850,000.
Despite the shrinking number of Jews living in Morocco, hundreds continue to flock to the country for events of social or religious significance such as “mimouna.”