Inauguration ceremony of the Assayag Synagogue and “BEIT YEHOUDA” Museum Space in Tangier
As part of the rehabilitation and improvement program for the Medina of Tangier, initiated by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, God help him, the Agency for the Promotion and Development of the North; as project owner in partnership with Wilaya in Tangier region Tetouan Al Hoceima; Delegated contracting authority and the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication continued the reconstruction of the building of the Assayag Synagogue, which was abandoned for more than 60 years and threatened to collapse at any time. The realization of this project was entrusted to the Committee of the Jewish Community of Tangier, whose rehabilitation work rebuilt the synagogue identically with full respect for its components that date back more than a century and required a global budget of 2,000,000 dirhams, financed by the Ministry of culture.
The inauguration ceremony of the Assayag Synagogue as well as the Beit Yehuda Museum space was held this Friday, August 19, 2022 in the presence of the Wali of Tangier Tetouan Al Hoceima Region, Mr. Mohamed Mhidia, the president of the region. Council, Mr. Omar Moro, the Governor of the Province of Fahs-Anjra, Mr. Abdelkhalek Marzouki, the Director General of the Agency for the Promotion and Development of the North, Mr. Mounir El Bouyoussfi, the President of the Jewish Community of Morocco, Serge Berdugo, the Rabbi of Tangier Jacob Tordjman, responsible for Jewish cultural heritage in Tangier, Ms. Sonia Azagury, vice president of CIT, Aaron Abikzer.To initiate this ceremony, the Rabbi of Tangier spoke, in Hebrew and then in Arabic, a speech raising prayers imploring the Almighty to grant health, long life and honor to His Majesty King Mohammed VI.
“Beit Yehuda” museum space
The Assayag Synagogue, this centuries-old place of worship, called in accordance with royal directives to house the future Jewish Museum for its ancient architecture, its Islamic arabesques and its Jewish ornaments, is also known for the ancient manuscripts it housed. This is where the Torah scrolls are kept and paintings representing a slice of Jewish life in Tangier are exhibited. Each painting is a myriad of details, from the stained glass windows, the sloping floors of the sanctuary and the chandeliers lit by real candles to the mannequins, dressed in traditional clothing.
The Committee of the Jewish Community of Tangier has created a working unit headed by Ms. Sonia Cohen Azagury and Mr. Aaron Abikzer to oversee the creation of the Beit Yehouda Museum Space in the name of the founder of the Yehouda Assayag Synagogue in 1880. idea and design of this space has been entrusted to Ms. Isabelle Timsit, who has designed a coherent and harmonious project that includes:
- The Assayag Synagogue itself was rebuilt identically in full respect of the past with its Heikhal (Tabernacle), its Sefarim (Scrolls of the Law), its Teba (altar), its Mapot (curtains), its pews, its votive lamps. It will be decorated with several showcases to present beautiful objects, Judaica artifacts, photos and documents from the collections protected by the Tangier Community Committee.
- The “Beit Yehouda” museum space is dedicated to the research, study, preservation and promotion of the specific cultural heritage of the Judaism of the Mégorachim (Jews expelled from Spain in 1492) established in the northern zone of the Kingdom with their traditions, their customs, their knowledge, their jurisprudence and their language (Haketia, a mixture of Hebrew, Old Castilian and Arabic).
Ground floor :
- A permanent exhibition hall dedicated to the history of the rich hours of the societies of Tangier, Tetouan, northern Morocco and a souvenir shop. These shops, which have been rented out for centuries, are integral parts of the building and have been restored by the community committee to increase the exhibition space.
On the 1st floor:
- A small room presents a staging of the life of a Jewish family from Tangier in the 19th century with their rich clothes (Kessoua Kbira-Jabador)
- The corridors around the courtyard of the synagogue will offer a circuit of exhibitions of the significant events in the history of these communities, and image rails will be dedicated to women.
- A large exhibition hall will be dedicated to the daily life of its community; to their traditions and customs, to life cycles, to religious life, to institutions, to demographic development, to its diaspora. It will be equipped with a screen that will broadcast videos, documents, photos, continuously or on demand from
- On the terrace there is a Sukkah (hut festival) and a cafeteria/tea room.
The interior of the sukkah
The interior of the sukkah
This project will be completed with the creation of a Dona and Haim Benchimol study and research center dedicated to Sephardic Judaism in northern Morocco. It will be launched in September 2022 with the participation of Moroccan experts and specialists collaborating with prestigious universities and institutions in Morocco, France, Spain, Belgium, Canada, Israel and the United States.
In his speech during this inauguration ceremony, Mr. Serge Berdugo emphasized that the Beit Yehouda Museum will be fully in line with the vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI; May God save him who called:
“For the restoration of all the Jewish temples in the various cities of the Kingdom, so that they are no longer only places of worship, but also a space for cultural dialogue and for the renewal of the fundamental values of Moroccan civilization. »
The creation of Beit Yehouda is a living tribute to the ancestral civilization of the Cherifian Kingdom. It is likely to strengthen the unbreakable ties of the Moroccan Jewish diaspora with the land of its ancestors, it preserves the signs of the past and expands the tourist attraction of the Pearl of the Straits,” concludes Mr. Berdugo.