The Jewish quarter, the Mellah, is a bit of a mystery. Morocco became home to Jews and Moors after the Spanish kicked them out in 1492, and there was apparently a thriving community of Jews here who got on well with their Muslim neighbors. Marge told us that the tradition was, when the Muslims went on pilgrimage to Mecca, that the Jews kept their fires burning.
But after the war, apparently due to Aliyah (the necessity to return to Israel), thousands of Jews left Essaouira. The Jewish quarter is now mostly in ruins. Neither Ed nor I could understand why no one else moved in and no one has been able to explain it to us.
There are a few buildings left, though. In one doorway was a sign for the synagogue with a phone number to call for entrance.
We walked in anyway and saw a modest little door with a hand-scribbled sign for the synagogue. You are just going to have to turn sideways to view this one, I have lost patience, sorry.
We walked down the tiled hallway and encountered a man who led the tour.
The rabbi and his family lived on the ground floor and upstairs was the synagogue. We marveled at the Torah ark and looked around at the gorgeous blue colors. Beyond that space was a room for the women. I guess they could hear the service but not sure they could actually see very much.
A couple from Israel came in and the man said he had been born here but left as a child in ’62 for Israel. He claimed that the whole city had been Jewish, but that must have been family legend. We went back outside and walked along the gritty path through the ruins and back to the buildings and shops.