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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Traditions of Early Settlement.
Sultanate in northwestern Africa. In antiquity it formed a considerable part of Mauritania. The latter was originally an independent kingdom, but in the year 42 of the common era it was made a Roman province and divided into Mauritania Tingitana, in the west, corresponding approximately to the Morocco of to-day, and Mauritania Cæsariensis, in the east, corresponding to the greater part of the modern Algeria. Mauritania, as indeed the whole of northern Africa, appears to have been settled by Jewish colonists even before the destruction of the Temple. Indefinite and fabulous traditions concerning such early settlements have been handed down among the Berber Jews of the Atlas and Rif mountains, the district of Sus, and the oasis of Tafilet and many other oases of the western regions. These Jews may be regarded as the descendants of those early settlers. The Jewish colonists of Borion assign their first settlement in the country to the time of Solomon, claiming that he himself built their synagogue, which in the sixth century was transformed into a church by Emperor Justinian (Neubauer, "Where Are the Ten Tribes?" in "J. Q. R." 1:23). Davidson, who traveled through the Atlas region and became acquainted with the Jews there, says they claim that their ancestors all left Jerusalem before its destruction and did not go as exiles to Babylon, and that they pretend never to have heard of Jesus of Nazareth (Andrée, "Zur Volkskunde der Juden," p. 197). These traditions are to some extent supported by the existence of Hebrew inscriptions in the province of Fez ("Ha-Lebanon," 3:110; Neubauer, c.), in Volubilis, in the extreme west of Mauritania near what was afterward called "Fez" (Schürer, " Gesch." 3:26; P. Berger, in "Bulletin Archéologique du Comité des Traveaux Historiques et Scientifiques," No. , pp. 64 et seq., Paris, 1892), in Al-Ḥamada, in the southern part of the province of Tafilet (Horowitz, "Marokko," p. 205, Leipsic, 1887; Henry S. Morais, "The Daggatouns," p. 9, Philadelphia, 1882), and, it is claimed (Morais, c.), in Tementit (comp. Jew. Encyc. 4:562, s. see see DIASPORA).
Under the Romans.
When the Jews began to spread over the Roman empire after the dissolution of the Jewish state (70), many of them doubtless settled in Mauritania, which province the Romans wished to civilize. These settlers engaged in agriculture, cattle-raising, and trades. They were divided into bodies akin to tribes, governed by their respective heads, and had to pay the Romans a capitation-tax of 2 shekels. Marcus Fischer ("Toledot Yeshurun: Gesch. der Juden Unter Regierung Mohadis und Imam Edris," Prague, 1817), and, following him, D. Cazès ("Essai sur l'Histoire des Israélites de Tunisie," pp. 28 et seq., Paris, 1889) have much more to say concerning these newcomers, their relations to the old inhabitants, their religious and civil life, their habits and customs, basing their statements on the verbal communications of "native historians." As Fischer, however, does not give his sources in detail, his information can be used only with caution. It is not known whether the Jews of Mauritania were in communication with their coreligionists in Palestine and Babylon; but, since the Talmud has some acquaintance with the customs of the Mauritanians (Yeb. 63b), such a communication does not seem wholly improbable.
Under the dominion of the Romans and (after 429) of the Vandals the Mauritanian Jews increased and prospered to such a degree that Church councils of Africa found it necessary to take a stand against them. The Justinian edict of persecution for northern Africa, issued after the Vandal rule had been overthrown and Mauritania had come under the dominion of the Byzantines (534), was directed against the Jews as well as the Arians, the Donatists, and other dissenters (E. Mercier, "Histoire de l'Afrique Septentrionale," 1:167, Paris, 1888). In the seventh century the Jewish population of Mauritania received as a further accession from Spain those who wished to escape west-Gothic legislation. At the end of the same century, at the time of the great Arabian conquests in northwestern Africa, there were in Mauritania, according to the Arab historians, many powerful Berber tribes which professed Judaism. It would be very interesting to know, although difficult to decide, whether these tribes were originally of Jewish race and had become assimilated with the Berbers in language, habits, mode of life—in short, in everything except religion-or whether they were native Berbers who in the course of centuries had been converted by Jewish settlers. However this may have been, they at any rate shared the lot of their non-Semitic brethren in the Berber territory, and, like them, fought against the Arab conquerors.
It was the Berber Jewess Dahiyah, or Damia, known as Kahinah, who aroused her people in the Aures, the eastern spurs of the Atlas, to a last although fruitless resistance to the Arab general Ḥasan ibn Nu'man, and herself died (703) the death of a heroine (Ibn Khaldun, 1:207 et seq., 3:193 et seq.; Mercier, c. 1:212 et seq.; August Müller, "Der Islam im Morgen- und Abendland," 1:420). As in the Hellenic lands of Christendom, so also in Mauritania, Judaism involuntarily preparedthe way for Islam; and the conversion of the Berbers to Islam took place so much the more easily. Many Jewish tribes of the Berbers also accepted Islam, some being forced thereto, others persuaded by the fact that the enemy had been successful. Nevertheless many Jewish Berber tribes have survived to the present day in their old habitations in the mountains of Morocco and in the oases of the desert, although as regards customs and mode and views of life they have been greatly influenced by Islam. In language and external appearance they are wholly Berber. In recent times (1857) a Moroccan Jew, Mordecai Abu Surur, has given information concerning such a Jewish Berber tribe known as the DAGGATUN, whose members are very numerous and spread over the whole desert, although residing chiefly among the Tuaregs in the oasis of Ajaj. According to their own traditions, these Daggatun have lived in the Sahara since the end of the seventh century, when they were driven out of Tementit, their early home and the former capital of the Jewish Berbers, because they would not accept Islam. There is said to be a similar tribe called the Maḥajri more toward the east (Horowitz, "Marokko," P. 59, Leipsic, 1887; comp. Jew. Encyc. 4:410, s. DAGGATUN).
Under the Idrisids.
When, at the end of the seventh century, Morocco came under the dominion of the Arabs, or of the Arabian califate of Bagdad, another incursion of Arab Jews into Morocco took place. The Moroccan Jews, like all other Jews in the Islamic empire, were subject to the Pact of Omar. The dependence of Morocco upon the califate of Bagdad ceased in the year 788, when, under the Imam Idris, the dynasty of the Idrisids, the descendants of Ali, was founded and proclaimed its independent rule over Morocco. The Jews undertook a political rôle in the history of the subjection of Morocco to Idris, the founder of this dynasty. After he had conquered Tangier and Volubilis, he wished to induce the Jewish tribes, which were inclined to remain faithful to the calif of Bagdad, to join his army. To make them more pliant to his wishes he caused them to be attacked and robbed in some of their cities, as in Temesna, Chella, and Magada, whereupon the Jews of Tadla, Fazaz, and Shauwiyah joined Idris' army under their general Benjamin ben Joshaphat ben Abiezer. After the combined army had met with some successes, the Jews withdrew, because they were horrified at the spilling of blood among those of their own tribesmen who were hostile to Idris and also because they had been made suspicious by an officer in Idris' army who wished to revenge himself upon Idris for adultery committed with his wife. The victorious Idris, however, took revenge by again falling upon them in their cities. After an unsuccessful resistance they had to conclude a peace with him, according to which they were required to pay an annual capitation-tax and to provide twenty-four virgins annually for Idris' harem. Later traditions attribute even still greater indignities inflicted on the Jewesses of Morocco by the lust of Idris (Marcus Fischer, c. pp. 32 et seq.). Idris II., successor of Idris I., allowed the Jews to settle in a special quarter of his capital, Fez (founded 808), in return for a tax of 30,000 dinars; in one of the many versions of the narrative of the founding of the city a Jew is mentioned (FEZ). Moreover, at the end of the seventh century, under Idris I., Jews could settle in different cities of the realm by paying the above-mentioned capitation-tax ("Rauḍ al - Ḳarṭas," translated by A. Beaumier: " Histoire des Souve- rains du Maghreb," p. 55, Paris, 1860).
The position of the Jews was on the whole favorable under the later Idrisids; under the Aghlabites, who overthrew the Idrisids in 986; under the Zirids, who drove out the Aghlabites; as also under the Almoravids, who, under Yusuf ibn Tashfin, seized the government in 1062 and who provided many Jews with new homes, through the foundation in 1062 of their new residential city Marrakesh (Morocco). Indeed, in the period from 900 to about 1150 an activity in the intellectual life of the Jewish communities may be traced in many Moroccan cities. The most important community was that of Fez, to which JUDAH IBN ḲURAISH sent an open letter in regard to the study of the Talmud, and with which the geonim Sherira and Hai ben Sherira carried on a halakic correspondence (Zunz, "Ritus," p. 53; comp. also Harkavy, "Teshubot ha-Ge'onim," No. 47, p. 24; No. 386, p. 200). Here in Fez the father of the gaon Samuel ibn Ḥofni was active as a Talmud scholar and ab bet din (Zunz, c. p. 191; Steinschneider, "Hebr. Bibl." 20:132). Here, in the tenth century, were born the philologists DUNASH BEN LABRAṬ and Judah ben David Ḥayyuj (c. 950) and, in theyear 1013, in a village near Fez, the halakist Isaac Alfasi; all these were educated in Fez. Here the writings of Saadia appear to have been studied; for two scholars of Fez—Abudani and David—brought thence Saadia's "Yeẓirah" commentary to Kairwan for Jacob ben Nissim (see "Orient, Lit." 1845, 6:563), who had not previously known of the work. Segelmesa, like Fez, had an academy, whose rosh bet din at one time was Joseph ben Amram. The latter sent his learned pupils to one of the academies of Babylon in order to obtain legal decisions (see Harkavy, c. Nos. 68, 283, pp. 38 et seq.). It was also in Segelmesa that Solomon ben Nathan in the eleventh or twelfth century wrote his siddur in Arabic with a philosophical introduction (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." Nos. 896-899), the dependence of which work upon that of Saadia leads to the conclusion that the latter's influence had taken root in Africa at an early period (Zunz, c. pp. 27-54). Abraham ibn Ezra in an elegy on the trials of the Jews in Spain and in the northern part of Africa appears to have extolled Segelmesa with good reason as a city of wise men and of Talmudic learning (Neubauer, in "Isr. Letterbode," 6:32; Jacob Egers, "Divan des Abraham ibn Ezra," p. 69, No. 169, Berlin, 1886). In the same poem Dra'a (Drah) appears as a seat of Jewish learning, together with Ceuta and Mequinez. From Dra'a a certain Mar Dunash addressed halakic questions to Isaac Alfasi (see Harkavy, c. No. 443, p. 235). Harkavy remarks (c. p. 392) that if this Dunash is identical with the Dunash living in Seville, who is mentioned by Joseph ibn Migash, he, as well as Alfasi, must have emigrated from northern Africa to the south of Spain. The Jews of Morocco were of course chiefly Rabbinites, although in Dra'a and Fez there were a few Karaites (Neubauer, "Where Are the Ten Tribes?" in "J. Q. R." 1:110).
Under the Almohades.
The tolerance enjoyed by the tribute-paying Jews and Christians in the cities of Morocco came to an end under the intolerant dynasty of the stern Almohades, who came into power in 1146. Non-Mohammedans were to be tolerated no longer; Jews and Christians were compelled either to accept Islam or to leave the country. Here, as in other parts of northern Africa, many Jews who shrank from emigrating pretended to embrace Islam. Maimonides, who was staying in Fez with his father, is said to have written to the communities to comfort and encourage his brethren and fellow believers in this sore time of oppression (see Ibn Verga, "Shebeṭ Yehudah," ed. Wiener, p. 50). In the above-mentioned elegy of Abraham ibn Ezra, which appears to have been written at the commencement of the period of the Almohades, and which is found in a Yemen siddur among the ḳinot prescribed for the Ninth of Ab, the Moroccan cities Ceuta, Mequinez, Dra'a, Fez, and Segelmesa are especially emphasized as being exposed to great persecution. Joseph ha-Kohen ("'Emeḳ ha-Baka," ed. Wiener, p. 20) relates that no remnant of Israel was left from Tangier to Mehedia. Moreover, the later Almohades were no longer content with the repetition of a mere formula of belief in the unity of God and in the prophetic calling of Mohammed. Abu Yusuf Ya'ḳub al-Manṣur, the third Almohadic prince, suspecting the sincerity of the supposedly converted Jews, compelled them to wear distinguishing garments, with a very noticeable yellow cloth for a head-covering; from that time forward the clothing of the Jews formed an important subject in the legal regulations concerning them (BADGE). The reign of the Almohades on the whole (1146-1269) exercised a most disastrous and enduring influence on the position of the Moroccan Jews. Already branded externally, by their clothing, as unbelievers, they furthermore became the objects of universal scorn and of violent despotic caprice; and out of this condition they have not succeeded in raising themselves, even down to the present day.
Immigration of Spanish and Portuguese Jews.
After the Almohades the Merinids ruled in Morocco until they were overthrown by the Saadites in the fifteenth century. During the murderous scenes which were enacted in 1391 in Seville and were repeated in a large part of Spain and then across the sea in Majorca, the Spanish Jews were glad to seize the first opportunity to emigrate to the northern coast of Africa in order to escape the alternate evils, death or the acceptance of Christianity. A hundred years later, when the Jews were driven out of Spain (1492) and Portugal (1496), the sudden inroad upon Morocco and the whole of northern Africa was repeated on a very much larger scale. This unexpected flood of Spanish immigrants, which soon caused overcrowding in the larger cities of Morocco, aroused uneasiness both among the Mohammedans, who feared an increase in the price of necessities, andamong the Jews already settled there, who had hitherto barely succeeded in gaining a livelihood by following handicrafts and in petty commerce. In addition to this unfriendly reception, the newcomers had to endure much from both great and small rulers eager for booty, as well as from the rough Moorish population (see Ibn Verga, c. pp. 185 et seq.). In Sale in 1442 many Jewesses were outraged; and in Alcazar-kebir the Jews were robbed of all they possessed. Many died of hunger or fell a prey to lions; some returned to Spain (ib. p. 226); most fled to Fez, where new trials awaited them. A terrible conflagration occurred in the Jewish quarter of that city, from which the historian of these events, Abraham ben Solomon of Torrutiel, then eleven years of age, escaped (see his "Sefer ha-Ḳabbalah" in Neubauer, "M. J. C." 1:112 et seq.). A famine broke out soon after the fire, during which more than 20,000 Jews died in and around Fez. Notwithstanding these untoward events, the secret Jews or Maranos who were left in Spain and Portugal and who were determined to remain true to their faith under all circumstances so little feared the dangers and trials of removing to a foreign country that Emanuel the Great, King of Portugal (1495-1521), felt obliged to forbid the Jews to emigrate, especially to territory under the dominion of the Moors, without express royal permission. This prohibition was contained in two ordinances dated respectively April 20 and April 24, 1499. Nevertheless with the aid of money and the exercise of shrewdness many Maranos succeeded in escaping to Africa. A certain Gonçalo of Loulé was heavily fined because he secretly transported Neo-Christians from Algarvé to Al-Araish on the coast of Morocco (Kayserling, "Gesch. der Juden in Portugal," pp. 143 et seq., Berlin, 1865).
Relation of Portuguese Jews.
A new group of Maranos was brought to Morocco through the definite establishment of the Inquisition in Portugal under Pope Paul III. in 1536 (ib. p. 217). But in spite of all the suffering which Portugal had brought upon the Jews, there yet remained enough patriotism in the hearts of her rejected Jewish sons to cause them to help their former oppressors to preserve their old possessions on the Moroccan coast and to gain new ones. Through the strategy of a Jewish physician the Portuguese in 1508 succeeded in conquering the old seaport town of Saffee, which had a large number of Jewish inhabitants and which, chiefly through them, had become an important commercial center (ib. pp. 155 et seq.). Two years later the same city, upon the reconquest of which the Moors had been steadily intent, was besieged by a large Moorish army. Thereupon two Portuguese Jews, Isaac Bencemero and a certain Ismail, brought assistance to the besieged with two ships manned by coreligionists and equipped at their own cost (ib.; see BENCEMERO, ISAAC). In Saffee the Jews were allowed to live as such by Emanuel's permission; also in Arzilla (after 1533), which had long been a Portuguese possession. In the quarrels which afterward took place between the Moors and the governors of Azamur (1526), Abraham ben Zamaira and Abraham Cazan, the most influential Jew in Azamur (1528), served the Portuguese as negotiators (ib. p. 161). The Jews Abraham and Samuel Cabeça of Morocco also had dealings with the Portuguese generals. When, in 1578, the young king Sebastian with almost his whole army met death, and Portugal saw the end of her glory, at Alcazar-kebir, the few nobles who remained were taken captive and sold to the Jews in Fez and Morocco. The Jews received the Portuguese knights, their former countrymen, into their houses very hospitably and let many of them go free on the promise that they would send back their ransom from Portugal (ib. p. 260). The numerous newly immigrated Jews, whose descendants have faithfully adhered to the use of their Spanish dialect down to the present day, and who far surpassed the older Jewish inhabitants of Morocco in education and in intellectual acquirements, come into the foreground in the following period of the history of Judaism in Morocco. With their skill in European commerce, in arts and handicrafts, much of which had hitherto been unknown to the Moors, and with their wealth, they contributed largely to the great rise and development of the Moroccan kingdom under the sherifs of Tafilet, who began to rule in 1550 (see G. B. Ramusio in Leo Africanus, "The History and Descriptionof Africa," ed. R. Brown, 3:1004, London, 1896).
In the middle of the seventeenth century the Jews in Morocco were powerfully affected by the Messianic movement which Shabbethai Ẓebi had brought about especially in the Orient. In 1666 the coming of the Messiah was expected here as everywhere else in Israel. For several years the fast-day commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem was celebrated as a day of feasting. Prayer-houses were changed into drinking-saloons; all mourning was turned into joy. The warning written by Jacob Sasportas, who had been rabbi in Sale for some time, against the Messianic pretensions of Shabbethai Ẓebi was intercepted by Ibn Saadon, a zealous adherent of Shabbethai in Sale (Grätz, "Gesch." 10:231). The governor of Sale persecuted the Jews of that city because they too plainly showed their hopes in a speedy redemption (ib. p. 216), so that many were obliged to emigrate (Jacob Sasportas, "Ẓiẓat Nobel," p. 8b). But neither this expulsion nor the apostasy of Shabbethai Ẓebi to Islam appears to have influenced the Messianic beliefs of the Jews in Sale; for, as is related by a French traveler who left Paris July 31, 1670, to visit the "Caribbee Islands in America," but was taken captive and brought to Sale by two Moorish privateers, a Dutch ship from Amsterdam came to Sale while he was there, having on board Dutch Jews who proclaimed that the long-looked-for Messiah would be born in Holland at the beginning of the ensuing year (1672). "The Jews, hearing of this good news, made a second Feast of Tabernacles, and held a general rejoicing and treating for eight days together" (T. B. Teller, "The Travels of the Sieur Mouette in the Kingdom of Fez and Morocco," in "A New Collection of Voyages and Travels into Several Parts of the World," 2:11).
This contemporary narrative gives the following account of the position of the Jews: "In every town they have a cheque [sheikh] or chief of their own, either chosen by them or appointed by the king; and this cheque raises the taxes which every house pays the king. They seldom go alone into the country, because the Arabs and barbarians generally cut the throats of Jews; and there is scarcely ever justice done to them in that country. If they talk much in their own defense before a governor—for every one pleads his own cause in Barbary without counselors or lawyers—he makes his guards buffet them. When they bury any of their number, the boys beat and throw stones at them, spit in their faces, and give them a thousand curses. Among themselves they exercise wonderful charity toward their poor, never suffering them to beg, their cheque taxing every family according to its ability to pay."
Under Muley Arshid and Muley Ismail.
This picture was drawn during the rule of Muley Arshid (Al-Rashid), with whom a new collateral line of the dynasty of the Alids, the Filali sherifs, had come to the throne. The Jews suffered much during the great conquests of Muley Arshid, who united the separate parts of Morocco into one single state, and wished to add to it all the northwestern lands of Africa. According to Chénier, when Arshid took the city of Morocco (1670), at the desire of the inhabitants he caused the Jewish councilor and governor of the ruling prince Abu Bekr, together with the latter and his whole family, to be publicly burned, in order to inspire terror among the Jews (Chénier, "Recherches Historiques sur les Maures et Histoire de l'Empire de Maroc," 2:351, Paris, 1787). He also tore down the synagogues of the city, expelled many Jews from Sus, and on the whole treated them very tyrannically. His demands on the Jews in the way of taxes were enormous; he had them collected by Joshua ben Ḥamoshet, a rich Jew, to whom he was under obligations for various services and whom he appointed chief over the Jews. He even ordered the Jews to supply wine to the Christian slaves, as he found that it made them work better (Teller, c. p. 25). To-day the preparation, from figs, grapes, or dates, of the brandy used in the inns is still exclusively in the hands of the Jews.
Muley Arshid's successor was his brother Muley Ismail (1672), known as one of the most cruel of tyrants. On his accession he appointed his Jewish favorite and adviser Joseph Toledani, son of Daniel Toledani, Muley Arshid's councilor, to be his minister, in which capacity Joseph concluded a peace between Morocco and Holland. Under Ismail's rule the ruined synagogues were rebuilt. He oppressed the Jews with heavy taxes, and invented all kindsof devices for robbing his subjects. One day he threatened to compel them to accept Islam if their Messiah did not come within a definite time. The Jews understood the hint and satisfied his pious zeal with a very large sum of money (Chénier, "The Present State of the Empire of Morocco," 1:354, London, 1788; comp. Jost, "Gesch. der Israeliten," 8:42 et seq.). The Jews, who served as tax-collectors on the whole coast, used to give Ismail yearly a golden riding-outfit as a "present," as an inducement to keep them in office, and a hen and a dozen chickens fashioned in gold as a tax for the whole Jewish community (Chénier, c. 1:326). Ismail had another way of securing money: for a certain sum he would sell to an aspirant for honors the position and wealth of one of his favorites. In one such transaction Maimaran, who was chief ruler over the Jews of the realm, feared a rival in Moses ibn 'Aṭṭar, and offered the sultan a certain sum for his head. Ismail then let Moses ibn 'Aṭṭar know how much had been offered for his head, whereupon Ibn 'Aṭṭar offered double the sum for the head of his opponent. The sultan took the money from both, called them fools, and reconciled them to each other, whereupon Ibn 'Aṭṭar married a daughter of Maimaran, and shared with him the Jewish rulership. The same Moses ibn 'Aṭṭar was Moorish plenipotentiary in the making of a compact with Great Britain in the year 1721.
In the Eighteenth Century.
The condition of the Jews was unchanged under Muley Mohammed (1757-89), who distinguished himself by his attempt to introduce European culture into his kingdom. His eldest son, Muley Ali, governor of Fez, courageously opposed his father's suggestion to impose a tax upon that city in favor of his other brothers, which tax was to be paid by the Jewish community "since the Jews as unbelievers deserve no pity." He stated that the Jews of Fez were already so poor that they were unable to bear the present tax and that he was not willing to increase still further their excessive misery (Chénier, c. 2:341). His minister was the Jew Elijah ha-Levi, who had at one time fallen into disgrace and had been given as a slave to a smuggler of Tunis, but had been restored to favor (Jost, c. 8:45). The accession to the throne of Muley Yazid, on the death of Sidi Mohammed (1789), led to a terrible massacre of the Moroccan Jews, they having refused him their support in his fight with his brother for the succession. As a punishment the richer Jews of Tetuan, at his entry into the city, were tied to the tails of horses and dragged through the city. Here and in the city of Morocco many were killed in other ways or robbed, and Jewesses were outraged. The Spanish consul, Solomon Ḥazzan, was executed for alleged treachery, and the Jews of Tangier, Arzilla, and Alcazar were condemned to pay a large sum of money. Elijah, the minister of the former king, who had always opposed Yazid in the council, quickly embraced Islam to avoid having his head cut off; but he died soon after, tormented with bitter remorse for this change of religion. The cruelty of the persecutors reached its climax in FEZ. In Rabat also, as in Mequinez (where a certain R. Mordecai died as a martyr to his faith), the Jews were ill-treated. In Mogador strife arose between the Jews and the city judge on the one hand, and the Moorish citizens on the other; the dispute was over the question of Jewish garb. Finally the Jews were ordered to pay 100,000 piasters and three shiploads of gunpowder; and most of them were arrested and beaten daily until the payment was made. Many fled beforehand to Gibraltar or other places; some died as martyrs; and some accepted Islam (Jost, c. 8:44 et seq.). The sanguinary events of the year 1790 have been poetically described in two ḳinot for the Ninth of Ab, by Jacob ben Joseph al-Maliḥ and by David ben Aaron ibn Ḥusain (see D. Kaufmann in "Z. D. M. G." 238 et seq.; "R. E. J." 37:120 et seq.).
From the second half of this century various accounts of travels exist which give information concerning the external position of the Jews. Chénier, for example (c. 1:157), describes them as follows:
"The Jews possess neither lands nor gardens, nor can they enjoy their fruits in tranquillity. They must wear only black, and are obliged when they pass near mosques, or through streets in which there are sanctuaries, to walk barefoot. The lowest among the Moors imagines he has a right to ill-treat a Jew, nor dares the latter defend himself, because the Koran and the judge are always in favor of the Mohammedan. Notwithstanding this state of oppression, the Jews have many advantages over the Moors: they better understand the spirit of trade; they act as agents and brokers, and they profit by their own cunning and by the ignorance of the Moors. In their commercial bargains many of them buy up the commodities of the country to sell again. Some have European correspondents; others are mechanics, such as goldsmiths, tailors, gunsmiths, millers, and masons. More industrious and artful, and better informed than the Moors, the Jews are employed by the emperorin receiving the customs, in coining money, and in all affairs and intercourse which the monarch has with the European merchants, as well as in all his negotiations with the various European governments."
There were, indeed, quite a number of such Jewish officials, negotiators, treasurers, councilors, and administrators at the Moroccan court, whom the European is inclined to call "ministers," but whom in reality the ruler used merely as intermediaries in extorting money from the people, and dismissed as soon as their usefulness in this direction was at an end. They were especially Jews from Spain, whose wealth, education, and statesmanship paved their way to the court here, as formerly in Spain. One of the first of such ministers was Shumel al-Barensi, at the beginning of the sixteenth century in Fez, who opened the "state career" to a long succession of coreligionists ending in the nineteenth century with Masado ben Leaho, prime minister and representative councilor of the emperor in foreign affairs. It would be erroneous to suppose that these Jewish dignitaries of the state succeeded in raising the position and the influence of their fellow believers, or that they even attempted to do so. They were usually very glad if they themselves were able to remain in office to the end of their lives.
Moroccan Jews were employed also as ambassadors to foreign courts, e.g., at the beginning of the seventeenth century Pacheco in the Netherlands; Shumel al-Farrashi at the same place in 1610; after 1675 Joseph Toledani, who, as stated above, concluded peace with Holland; his son Ḥayyim in England in 1750; a Jew in Denmark; in 1780 Jacob ben Abraham Benider, sent as minister from Morocco to King George III.; in 1794 a Jew named Sumbal and in 1828 Meïr Cohen Macnin, sent as Moroccan ambassadors to the English court (Picciotti, "Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History," p. 173, London, 1875; Meakin, "The Moors," London, 1902).
In the Nineteenth Century.
The nineteenth century, which brought emancipation to the Jews of most lands, left those of Morocco on the whole in their old state of sad monotony and stagnation. Every new war in which Morocco became involved in that century with any foreign country sacrificed the Jews of one district or another of the sultanate to the general depression and discontent which an unsuccessful war usually calls forth in political and commercial life. The war with France in 1844 brought new misery and ill treatment upon the Moroccan Jews, especially upon those of Mogador (Jost, "Neuere Gesch. der Israeliten," 2:220, Berlin, 1846). When the war with Spain broke out (Sept. 22, 1859) the Moors had nothing more fitting to do than to plunder the houses of friendly Jewish families in Tetuan (H. Iliowizi, "Through Morocco to Minnesota," 1888, p. 49). Most of the Jews saved their lives only by flight; about 400 were killed. A like result followed the conflict with Spain in 1853 in consequence of the violent acts of the cliff-dwellers in Melilla.
Montefiore's Journey to Morocco.
In the year 1863 Sir Moses Montefiore and the Board of Deputies of British Jews received a telegram from Morocco asking for help for nine or ten Jews who were imprisoned at Saffee on suspicion of having killed a Spaniard. Two others, although innocent, had already been executed at the instigation of the Spanish consul; one of them publicly in Tangier, the other at Saffee. Thereupon Sir Moses, supported by the English government, undertook a journey to Morocco to demand the liberation of the imprisoned Jews and, as he said in a letter to the sultan, tomove the latter "to give the most positive orders that the Jews and Christians, dwelling in all parts of Your Majesty's dominions, shall be perfectly protected, and that no person shall molest them in any manner whatsoever in anything which concerns their safety and tranquillity; and that they may be placed in the enjoyment of the same advantages as all other subjects of Your Majesty," etc. Montefiore was successful in both attempts. The prisoners were liberated; and on Feb. 15, 1864, the sultan published an edict granting equal rights of justice to the Jews ("Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore," 2:145 et seq., London, 1890; see also the account of the journey by Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, the physician who accompanied Montefiore, entitled "Narrative of a Journey to Morocco," London, 1866). This edict of emancipation was confirmed by Mohammed's son and successor, Muley Ḥasan (1873), on his accession to the throne, and again on Sept. 18, 1880, after the conference in Madrid. Such edicts and promises of a similar nature made from time to time to the Alliance Israélite Universelle, even if they are seriously intended, are, however, absolutely useless, since they are not carried into effect by the local magistrates, and if they were they would cause the old, deeply rooted hatred of the fanatical population to burst forth into flames. Thus, for example, the sultan Sulaiman (1795-1822) decreed that the Jews of Fez might wear shoes; but so many Jews were killed in broad daylight in the streets of that city that they themselves asked the sultan to repeal the edict. According to a statistical report of the Alliance Israélite Universelle for the years 1864-80 no less than 307 Jews were murdered in the city and district of Morocco, which crimes, although brought to the attention of the magistracy upon every occasion, remained unpunished (see "Bulletin de l'Alliance Israélite Universelle," No. 2, p. 17, Paris, 1880). The ideas of law and justice which make such conditions possible are expressed in the Moroccan proverb, "One may kill as many as seven Jews without being punished."
Dangers of the Jewish Position.
A change of ruler in Morocco has always meant a time of great danger to the Jews. Even at the latest of such changes, on the death of Muley Ḥasan, who had been very considerate toward Jews, disturbances broke out in the interior which more than once greatly endangered the lives of the Jews. Many wholesale murders and plunderings of the Jews have followed upon their support of an unsuccessful pretender to the throne or upon some other lack of political foresight. An equally decisive influence in the passive character of the history of the Moroccan Jews is exerted by the conflagrations, famines, and epidemics which claim their numerous victims in every decade, and against which the inhabitants, waiting in fatalistic inactivity, have not yet thought of opposing organized preventive measures. In Fez alone 65,000 persons succumbed during the latest visitation of the plague, in 1799. On such occasions the Moslem condescends to ask the Jewish rabbi to pray in public; Jews and Moslems then go together through the streets, calling on God to spare their lives. Like common needs, so also common superstitions bind Jews and Moors together. In the mountains of Ashron is a Jewish saint to whose sanctuary on the summit of a steep peak infertile women of both races make pilgrimages, inflicting self-castigation the while (Chénier, c. 1:154). In other respects such a thing as peaceful, social intercourse does not seem to exist between Moslems and Jews in Morocco; and the hatred of the former toward the latter has been handed down through generations in many legal limitations, the principal ones of which Edmund de Amicis ("Morocco, Its People and Places," p. 248) enumerates thus:
"They can not bear witness before a judge, and must prostrate themselves on the ground before any tribunal; they can not possess lands or houses outside their own quarter; they must not raise their hands against a Mussulman, even in self-defense, except in the case of being assaulted under their own roofs; they can only wear dark colors; they must carry their dead to the cemetery at a run; they must ask the Sultan's leave to marry; they must be within their own quarter at sunset; they must pay the Moorish guard who stands sentinel at the gates of the Mellah; and they must present rich gifts to the Sultan on the four great festivals of Islam, and on every occasion of birth or matrimony in the imperial family."
System of Naturalization and Protection.
A certain number of Jews are excepted from these numerous restrictions, namely: (1) those who have become naturalized by residence in European states and as citizens of those states stand under the protection of their embassies; (2) those who are agents of European officials and merchants and hence stand under the protection of the government to which the latter belong. It is interesting to note that it was the above-mentioned Moses ibn 'Aṭṭar, the favorite of Muley Ismail, who, in the contract concluded by him with England in 1721, laid the foundation for the system of protection which not only became the basis of all peaceful intercourse between the European states and Morocco, but meant for some Jews the only possibility of an existence secure against the unjust laws of the land, and for all the hope of an improvement in their position. France also acquired by contract the right of protection in 1767. In 1860 there were 103 Jews among 463 persons who were under the protection of some foreign government; the distribution according to countries being as follows ("Bulletin de l'Alliance Israélite Universelle," 1880, 1:32):
|Country||Number Protected.||Number of Jews.|
The naturalization and protection of Jews by foreign states is a thorn in the flesh to the Moroccan government. It tries to prevent the former by putting great difficulties in the way of Jewish emigration,especially in the case of Jewish women, and it seeks to evade the latter by simply paying no attention to it; so that the Madrid Conference (in 1888) had to deal with the question of protected Jews. Moreover, the Moroccan government indemnifies itself for this restriction of its despotism in the case of Jews living on the coast by its treatment of Jews in the interior; and the number of the former could not be increased without the greatest danger to the latter.
There is yet another way for the Jews to escape restrictions, and that is by embracing Islam. Jewish criminals and those suspected of offenses of any sort have from ancient times endeavored to escape punishment in this way. Sometimes such converts have attained honorable positions. But even to-day marriages of Moors with them are avoided; and in other respects they are viewed with suspicion, and exist as a separate class. Moreover, the Moor allows no jesting in regard to the acceptance of Islam. If a Jew in jest exchanges his black shoes for yellow ones, he is regarded as converted. Disavowal is of no avail. For example, in 1820 a drunken Jew entered a mosque and was persuaded to acknowledge the Prophet. The next day, having become sober, he repented his deed and went to the governor to explain the matter to him. The sultan was informed of the Jew's recantation, and immediately came his answer per courier: "On the arrival of the courier behead the Jew and send his head to me." Half an hour after the messenger's arrival the head of the Jew was in a leathern pouch on its way to court (Meakin, in "J. Q. R." 4:376; see also Fleischer in "Z. D. M. G." 18:329).
Concerning the intellectual life of the Moroccan Jews Samuel Romanelli, a merchant and an acute observer who traveled in Morocco in 1790, and who in 1792 published in Berlin an instructive description of his journey under the title "Massa' ba-'Arab" declares of the Jews that the lack of books and of information concerning the outer world has sunk their minds in a swamp of folly and childishness so that they regard everything which is new and unknown to them as a marvel. He remarks: "The sciences appear monstrous to them; and their ignorance takes pleasure in the statement that science has driven many into heretical confusion. In short, the manly strength of the wise men has been conquered, and they have become weak-minded women" (part , Appendix; Winter and Wünsche, "Die Jüdische Litteratur," 3:463). It is true that the many seeds of intelligence and learning which were transplanted thither from Spain and Portugal after the end of the fourteenth century found no suitable soil. Although the incoming rabbis elevated the cities of Fez, Mequinez, and Rabat to centers of Jewish learning, they produced only what was mediocre, following the old, beaten path of Biblical and Talmudic exegesis—Halakah and homiletics.
The most important of the immigrant families of scholars were the following: (1) The Azulais in Fez, especially the cabalistic writer Abraham Azulai (born here 1570), who in consequence of political disturbances emigrated to Palestine, and whose cabalistic work "Ḥesed le-Abraham" (Amsterdam, 1685) contains interesting information concerning the condition of the Moroccan Jewry; the rabbi of the same name, Abraham Azulai, known as a worker of miracles (born in Morocco; died 1745); and the learned Ḥayyim Joseph David Azulai, who resided in Morocco for some time in 1773 (comp. Jew. Encyc. 2:375 et seq.). (2) The 'Aṭṭar family, which existed from the fourteenthto the eighteenth century; it had numerous representatives in Morocco, such as Abraham ben Jacob, cabalist and Talmudist at the beginning of the seventeenth century; Judah ben Jacob (1670-1740), rabbi in Fez, jointly with Abraham ibn Danan, Ḥayyim David Serero, Samuel ibn Zimrah, Meïr Ẓaba', Jacob ibn Ẓur, and others; Ḥayyim, rabbi of Sale toward the end of the seventeenth century, who, on account of a rebellion, went to Mequinez; Ḥayyim's equally learned son Moses, born in Mequinez, and probably identical with the above-mentioned statesman in the service of Muley Ismail; his son Ḥayyim ben Moses (born in Sale 1696; died in Jerusalem 1743), one of the most important exegetical writers and rabbis of Morocco; Shem-Ṭob ibn 'Aṭṭar, Talmudist and philanthropist; died in Fez 1700; his son Moses, father-in-law of Ḥayyim ben Moses ibn 'Aṭṭar; distinguished for his philanthropy as well as for his learning; founder of schools for poor children in Fez, which he supported out of his own means (See Jew. Encyc. 2:290 et seq.). Finally should be mentioned Jacob ibn 'Aṭṭar, secretary of Mohammed X., and who knew English, French, Spanish, and Italian (Meakin, c.). Related to the 'Aṭṭars was (3) the De AVILA family, which had likewise come to Morocco from Spain. Its most important representatives were: Moses ben Isaac (a rich philanthropist who at the end of the seventeenth century founded a yeshibah in Mequinez for Ḥayyim ibn 'Aṭṭar, who had come from Sale; many rabbis studied at this institution); his son Samuel (b. 1687; succeeded his father as rabbi in Mequinez; later, in consequence of a Jewish expulsion, he went to Sale; he was the author of "Ozen Shemuel" [Amsterdam, 1725], a collection of sermons, and of funeral orations which contain biographical material concerning some of his Moroccan contemporaries); Eliezer ben Samuel (1714-61), rabbi in Rabat and author of rabbinical works; Samuel ben Solomon, Talmudist in the eighteenth century, author of novellæ.
Scholars and Rabbis.
Other scholars and rabbis who deserve mention are: Samuel Ẓarfati (d. 1713); Elijah Ẓarfati, ab bet din and rabbi of Fez, and author of decisions; Shem-Ṭob Gabbai, pupil of Ḥayyim ibn 'Aṭṭar in Jerusalem; Jacob ibn Ẓur, author of "'EṭSofer"; Samuel ibn al-Baz, rabbi in Fez, and author of "'Oz we-Hadar," a commentary on 'Abodah Zarah, etc. (see Azulai, "Shem ha-Gedolim," passim).
According to Iliowizi (c. p. 50), the Tetuan Jews claim the following authors as natives of their city: Isaac ben Hananiah Arobas, author of "Emet we-Emunah" (Venice, 1672), on the 613 commandments and prohibitions, on the thirteen articles of faith, on the liturgy, etc. (Benjacob, "Oẓar ha-Sefarim," p. 44—also translated into Italian; Ḥasdai Almosnino, rabbi of Tetuan, author of "Mishmeret ha-Ḳodesh" (Leghorn, 1825), supercommentary on Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch, and of "Ḥesed El" (ib. 1826), notes on the Bible and Talmud (Benjacob, c. p. 379); Menahem Attia, author of "Ner ha-Ma'arabi," sermons (in MS.); Jacob Ben-Malka, author of "Sefer ha-Ma'arabi," responsa; Isaac Bengnalid, author of "Wa-Yomer Yiẓaẓ" (in MS.); Jacob Ḥalfon, who wrote "Neged Melakim" and "Yanuḳa debe Rab" (both in MS.); I. Marracho, cabalist, who wrote on the Zohar (in MS.). There lived besides in Tetuan the CORIAT family, the chief representatives of which were Judah, known as the author of "Ma'or wa-Shemesh" (Leghorn, 1838), and who lived at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and Abraham, the author of "Zeh Sefer Zekut Abot" (Leghorn, 1813), a collection of responsa (see Jew. Encyc. 4:273), which contains interesting material concerning the religious life of the Jews of Morocco. Abraham was the author of a collection of sermons also.
At present the Bible and Talmud are studied in the ḥadarim and yeshibot; the Jews of Morocco, however, are more occupied with the Cabala; many earn their livings only by writing amulets. The Alliance Israélite Universelle has tried to pave the way for French civilization among the Jews by founding schools in Fez (1883), Mogador (1888), Tangier (1864), Tetuan (1862), and Casa Blanca (1897). The establishment of girls' schools in Tangier (1879), Tetuan (1868 and 1897), and Mogador, by the Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Anglo-Jewish Association, gives a clear insight into the most necessary educational needs of the Jewish population of Morocco. The Moroccan Jewesses are generally uneducated, being, as a rule, unable either to read or to write; they are described as being childish and fond of ornaments. On the other hand, they are distinguished for their unusual beauty, this being perhaps the only point upon which all travelers are agreed. The most beautiful Jewesses are said to live in Mequinez, so that a woman of extraordinary beauty is termed "Meḳnasiyyah" (E. Réclus, "Nouvelle Géographie Universelle," p. 697, Paris, 1886). E. de Amicis (c. p. 19) describes the beauty of the Moroccan Jewesses thus: "The beauty of the Jewesses of Morocco has a character of its own, unknown in other countries. It is an opulent and splendid beauty, with large black eyes, broad, low forehead, full red lips, and statuesque form." The Jewesses of Morocco have been suspected by Chénier and, after him, by other travelers of not being very conscientious in regard to womanly virtue. A more careful investigation, however, shows that this aspersion is unfounded (see Horowitz, c. p. 53).
The Jews of Morocco are pious and faithful to the Law, but are very superstitious. Their ritual is substantially Sephardic, although they have many peculiar customs, concerning which Benjamin II. has given a detailed account in his book of travels, "Mass'e Yisrael" (pp. 124 et seq., Lyck, 1859; comp. Zunz, "Ritus," pp. 53 et seq.). The most remarkable of these is the custom, still prevalent, of employing professional mourning-women to sing the old lamentations (ḳinot) in case of death, just as their mourning ceremonies in general still bear the stamp of barbaric wildness and originality.
In the interior of the country several districts (e.g., of the Berber tribes Beni Metir, Beni Megild, Beni Wagha'in, A'it Yusi, Zemmur Shilh, and Za'ir) are said to have no Jewish inhabitants. Likewise the sacred city of Zarhon is forbidden to Jews as to all non-Moslems (Meakin, in "J. Q. R." 4:378 et seq.). A list ofHebrew settlements and the rivers upon which they were situated was made at Mequinez in 1728, with the purpose of definitely establishing their Hebrew orthography for use in Jewish divorce documents. This was published from a manuscript by Neubauer in "R. E. J." 5:249, and was translated by M. Schwab (ib. 35:306). It gives a large number of cities which were then inhabited by Jews. Excepting in Tangier, Arzilla, Casa Blanca, Mazagan, and Saffee, the Jews live exclusively in their Mellaḥ, or Jews' quarter.
To determine the number of Jewish inhabitants in a land where no statistics are kept and where wide stretches of territory are wholly unexplored is extremely difficult, and any estimate must rest upon the hazardous calculations of travelers. The total population is variously reckoned from 5,000,000 to 10,000,000. Chénier, who after 1767 lived for several years as French consul in Morocco, estimated the Jewish population at one-twelfth of its former number, which, according to his calculation, amounted to about 30,000 families, or 150,000 souls; that is to say, he placed it at 12,500 persons (the great decrease he attributed to emigration and conversion to Islam, due at least in part to persecutions). Estimates of the present number of Jews vary from 30,000 to 350,000. Gräberg di Hemsö ("Il Specchio . . . dell' Imperio di Marocco," Genoa, 1834) gives 339,500; Alexander ("The Jews," p. 17), 340,000; Horowitz ("Marokko"), 250,000; Maltzan ("Drei Jahre im Nordwesten von Africa," 4:17), 200,000; "The Statesman's Year Book" (1904), 150,000; "Bulletin de l'Alliance Israélite Universelle" (1880, p. 31) and the Geographical Society of Marseilles ("Bulletin," 1885) give 100,000; Rohlfs (in A. Petermann's "Mittheilungen," p. 212, Gotha, 1883) has 62,800; idem, according to the statement of Reclus ("Nouvelle Géographie Universelle," p. 698, Paris, 1886), gives about 30,000. This last number is probably nearest the truth.
- Gräberg di Hemsö, Précis de la Littérature Historique du Maghrib el-Acsa, Lyons, 1820 (printed also as the second part of his Specchio dell' Imperio di Marocco, Genoa, 1834);
- E. L. Playfair and R. Brown, A Bibliography of Morocco to the End of 1891, in Supplementary Papers of the Royal Geographical Society, vol. (published separately by Murray, London);
- B. Meakin, The Moorish Empire, ib. 1899 (contains a review of the more important works on Morocco);
- idem, The Morocco Jews, in The Moors, ib. 1902;
- see Jew. Encyc. 5:381, s. Fez, and bibliography there given.
Moroccan Jews Apt Linguists.
The Moroccan Jews are divided into two distinct classes: (1) the descendants of the first settlers (of whose arrival nothing certain is known), who reside chiefly in the Atlas and hilly districts; and (2) the descendants of those who at a later period took refuge in Morocco when they fled from Spain and Portugal. These absorbed their coreligionists upon the coast, and have formed there a progressive colony, amenable to European influences and many of them speaking Spanish, while those of the interior, whose mother tongue is Berber, reject all modern ideas and scorn Western education, even when offered to them by the Alliance Israélite Universelle, which maintains excellent schools on the coast and in Fez. All of them speak a corrupt Arabic, since trade brings them in contact with both races, but they write it in Hebrew characters. The proportion who speak both Berber and Spanish is very small indeed; but, as elsewhere, the Jews of the ports have shown themselves apt linguists, and many have mastered both English and French; the facilities afforded by the schools have led to a great proficiency in the latter language.
Under these circumstances the Jews have risen to important positions in the business world, as also in the employment of the foreign legations and consulates. In Mogador the principal trade has fallen into their hands; and there is probably no business concern in the country with which they are not connected through some position or other. Two families have made themselves so useful to France and Great Britain respectively that the citizenship of those countries has been secured to them by treaty. Many others enjoy the protection from Moorish injustice which foreign service secures, either as official employees or as the brokers ("semsars") of mercantile houses, of whom the native authorities recognize two for each wholesale firm in each town. These positions are so much sought after, on account of the immunity from unjust exactions which they assure to their holders, that they are as frequently bought as filled for business purposes—a system fraught with gross abuses and anomalies.
Indignities to Jews.
Nowhere in Morocco without such protection does the Jew receive common justice. From the cradle to the grave he is despised and vituperated, an apology being necessary even for an allusion to him in polite society. Every possible indignity is heaped upon him, and he enjoys neither social nor civil equality with his neighbors; they tolerate him only because he renders himself indispensable, and knows how, under the most unfavorable of circumstances, to amass wealth, which he is always ready to put out at exorbitant interest, and of which he may be ultimately despoiled by powerful officials. He is known as a "dhimmi" (plural, "dhimmiyyah"), or tributary, since he is only tolerated on that basis, and special contributions are wrung from him on every possible occasion.
In most of the towns of Morocco the Jews are forced to congregate in the Mellaḥ = "place of salt"—sometimes called in derision "Massus" = "saltless"—in which they are confined at night by gates beyond which many of the women never pass. Those Jews who do so must needs walk barefoot, even riding being forbidden to them within the walls. Certain streets approaching mosques and shrines are interdicted altogether. Outside the walls Jews may ride any animals but horses, which are considered far too noble for such despised individuals. In order that they may never be mistaken for their "betters," a dark-colored gabardine, with black skull-cap and slippers, is compulsory for the men. The women, however, may dress as they like, which in some cities means, in the streets, placing a sheet over their heads to hide their faces in the Moorish fashion, and in others following closely the style adopted by their neighbors when indoors.
In the Atlas district, if a village has not a Jewishquarter, there is generally a companion village at a stone's throw and devoted to the "tributaries," who are the pedlers, the craftsmen, and the muleteers, if not the farriers, of the district. The condition of the Jews of such villages is even worse than of those in the towns; for it lies between that of serfs and that of slaves. Some are under the binding protection of the local sheik; others pertain to private individuals, who have practically the right to sell them. They are not only compelled to do much without payment, but are imposed upon at every turn. They may not marry or remove their families till they have received permission from their so-called protectors; and without this protection they would not be safe for a day. Yet a few dollars has sometimes been considered sufficient blood-money for one of these unfortunates. On the other hand, outsiders are permitted to do them no injury, which would be considered as inflicted upon their protector ("kasi"), who makes the duty of avenging such injury a point of honor. Disputes of this nature between powerful men lead frequently to intertribal quarrels.
Jews as Serfs.
In traveling it is sufficient for the protégé, to insure his safety, to bear some article belonging to his master, written documents being scarce, with few to understand them. Yet there are districts in the Atlas where the Jews are forced to go armed, and to take part in the tribal fights. The treatment of individual serfs depends entirely upon the temper or pleasure of their masters, for their chances of redress for injury are practically nil; so that their position is in some respects even worse than that of the negro slaves, who, being Mohammedans, may benefit at law from certain rights denied to those who spurn their prophet. Centuries of this oppression have naturally had a very deleterious effect upon the characters of the victims, who are cringing, cowardly creatures, never daring to answer back, and seldom even standing erect—a people demanding the utmost pity.
Synagogues Are Neglected.
The synagogues are for the most part despicable, dirty, poor, and neglected, but not more so than the dwellings of the worshipers, which reek with impurities and are generally tumble-down and poverty-stricken, except in the case of more or less protected city families. Many of the synagogues are only private houses fitted up for purposes of worship, and the scrolls of the Law are the only articles of value on the premises. Light is supplied by the rudest of oil-lamps or a wick floating in a large tumbler of water. Frequently even the women's gallery is absent, and the house of prayer serves also as a store, a living-room, and even a place of business. The teaching of youths is conducted there or in the street in a primitive manner by meanly clad rabbis, whose learning is of the shallowest, but who eke out a living as shoḥeṭim and mohelim.
The morals of these people, save in the matter of drunkenness, are certainly above those of their Moslem neighbors, and in consequence they are remarkably free from the diseases which their neighbors bring upon themselves. This is to some extent accounted for by the almost equally prejudicial system of child marriages which prevails in the interior, where they usually take place at the ages of six to eight. The little bride comes home to the house of her husband's parents, and her changed condition is made known by the kerchief with which henceforth her hair must be hidden. At twelve she may become a mother; but her husband, usually her senior by a few years, may by this time have become tired of her, and, if he can afford it, may put her away and take another. Bigamy is not common; and the descendants of the families expelled from Spain permit it only when the first wife consents.
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Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Tangier'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/t/tangier.html. 1901.