Morocco’s Jewish community is mourning the death of a teacher of generations of rabbis.
Meknes – Morocco’s Jewish community is mourning the loss of Rabbi Yossef Abdelhak due to complications from COVID-19.
The Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco shared a message of condolences on October 25.
Their statement expressed appreciation for the rabbi for his profound Yiraat Chamayim (fear of God), “intense” study at the Kollel of Casablanca, and his erudition and great modesty.
The statement also stressed the role of Rabbi Abdelhak in training generations of rabbis, including Rabbi Moshe Amar, the Great Rabbi of Jerusalem.
The source said the rabbi was an excellent teacher at the Talmudic schools, enabling many generations of students to acquire deep knowledge. His students always appreciated and loved him for his devotion and constant guidance.
The Council of Jewish Communities in Morocco remembers him as a true master and a “Man of Hesed” who always showed love and empathy towards humanity. The late rabbi allocated his money to buy Tefilines and Talith and offered them to “his needy students.”
The memory of Rabbi Yossef Abdelhak will remain in the hearts of the Jewish community in Morocco and worldwide.
Morocco’s deep connection with its Jewish community
The international community knows Morocco as a regional beacon of religious tolerance and coexistence, in no small part thanks to its active inclusion of its Jewish population.
As a significant Moroccan community, more than 300,000 Jews lived in Morocco before the 1948 founding of Israel. While only hundreds remain today, the country takes pride in its historical and current status as a safe place where Jews can worship freely and fully enjoy their human rights in the Muslim world.
Morocco is far from flawless and persecuted Jews for centuries, formally and informally. However, this changed with the reign of King Mohammed V, who challenged Europe’s anti-Semitism during World War II.
When Vichy’s Nazi government demanded the country, as a French protectorate, legislate against its Jewish population and deport Morocco’s 250,000-strong Jewish population, King Mohammed V refused.
“There are no Jewish citizens, there are no Muslims citizens. They are all Moroccans,” the late King told the Nazi regime.
The respect for Morocco’s Jewish community has continued to the present, with King Mohammed VI’s rule. The country’s new constitution, adopted in 2011, explicitly embraces the Jewish community’s contributions to Morocco’s heritage.
Morocco is a pilgrimage site for Jews today, hosting dozens of archaic religious sites because its native Jewish population dates back to 70 AD.
The death of Rabbi Yossef Abdelhak marks both a moment to appreciate the Jewish population’s important place in Moroccan history and culture, and to mourn a man who was a pillar in the Moroccan Jewish community.