Musings from Morocco: Lasting Impressions

July 12, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Travel
Visiting Morocco leaves one with both a sense of hope and of despair. The sense of despair does not refer to the decline of Jewish community, which at approximately 3,000 souls, totals some 1% of its pre-1948 numbers. Thankfully, the other 99% were not murdered in the Holocaust or even expelled by their Arab rulers, but rather chose to leave voluntarily, mainly to go to the State of Israel—where today, some one million Israelis...
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Musings from Morocco: Shabbat in Marrakech

July 10, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Travel
The city of Marrakech was, for many years, home to the largest Jewish population in Morocco. Today it has two functioning shuls: one in the mella, the old Jewish quarter, which at one time housed some 40,000 Jews; and the other some four miles away in the “new city”, where most of the Jews moved after 1956 when Morocco gained its independence from France[1]. With some 75 (mainly elderly) Jews left in the city, the shuls...
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Musings from Morocco: Berber Blessings

July 08, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Travel
Eizo asheer? Hasameach bechelko, Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his lot”. It is often hard for many of us raised in the affluence of the West to appreciate the beauty of a simple way of life, devoid of all the modern conveniences we take for granted—and can't live without. A visit to a Berber village can help with some perspective. The indigenous Jews of Morocco, known as the toshavim,...
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Korach: No Unity Without Diversity

It is in times of crisis that effective leadership is most important—and the years spent wandering in the desert represented the first major crisis of the Jewish people. Aimlessly wandering with little to look forward to, knowing that they would die in the desert, the hope and excitement of the Exodus was long gone. It is not surprising that, when faced with a crisis, instead of looking inward, people often look to blame others for their...
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Musings from Morocco: Welcome to Fez

July 04, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Travel
Outside of the world of the yeshiva, it’s a safe bet to assume that most who study Talmud do so as part of the Daf Yomi cycle. This innovation of Rav Meir Shapiro was special not only because Jews around the world study the same page of Talmud every day, but because Jews around the world would study Talmud at all. For most of our post-Talmudic history, only a select few studied Gemara. For much of that time, those Jews who...
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