Mint, Markets, Mountains, Mellahs . . . Morocco!

PAS Adult Learners Trip: October 18–26, 2020
By Rabbi Charlie Savenor

In October 2020, Travel with PAS will venture to the African continent for the first time. Adult learners will travel to Morocco, a land of breathtaking cities, dynamic souks, and delicious cuisine, where Jewish roots go back nearly 2,000 years. Registration for this unprecedented adventure will open on Tuesday, November 19.

Chaired by Lisa Grinberg and Sheri Rosenfeld and led by Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove and Rabbi Charlie Savenor, this PAS journey will explore the rich and dynamic experience of one of the foremost Sephardic Jewish communities. During 2,000 years of uninterrupted Jewish life in this land, Jews mostly experienced positive relations and acceptance from the Muslim community, although there were also some dark and even tragic chapters. Jews who called Morocco home include luminaries such as Maimonides and Rabbi Isaac Alfasi, as well as Jews exiled from Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth century. During the Holocaust, King Mohammad V of Morocco courageously stood up to the pro-Nazi Vichy regime and refused to deport Jews to their death.

Before the founding of Israel, there were estimated to be as many as 275,000 Jews living in Morocco, the largest Jewish community in the Muslim world. In countless cities, the Jewish community lived in areas called mellahs, meaning “salt” in Arabic, referring to the Jews’ one-time role as traders of this essential commodity. Although today Jews in Morocco number only 3,500, Moroccan society continues to treasure their contributions. A popular Moroccan saying asserts, “A market without Jews is like bread without salt.”

Morocco is one of the few Muslim countries that Jews can visit openly. We will bond with the local Jewish communities in the imperial cities of Casablanca, Fes, Rabat and Marrakesh. We will also encounter their Muslim neighbors, who are committed to serving as supporters, and, in some cases, caretakers, of relationships with and memories of Moroccan Jewry. The Museum of the Jews of Morocco in Casablanca is the only Jewish museum in the Muslim world.

At the conclusion of the trip, we are offering an extension to the Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert. Highlights will include a camel ride in the Sahara, an encounter with a Berber tribe in their long-standing village, and “glamping” under the stars.

Like all Travel with PAS, the trip to Morocco will offer a view of historic places through a Jewish lens. Beyond that, we will immerse ourselves in a narrative that is not about a tolerated minority, but about neighbors who found common ground and built a society together. And as always, we will travel as a PAS community, creating and reinforcing friendships.

Registration for this trip will follow the process announced last May: There will be a preregistration window during which there will be no limit on how many people may sign up. If more people preregister than there are seats on the trip, a random number generator will determine who will have a spot and who will be placed on a waitlist.

If you have questions about the trip, including about registration, please contact Rabbi Savenor at csavenor@pasyn.org.

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