Intimacy, cooperation and ambivalence social, economic and cultural interaction between jews and berbers in Morocco

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    This study deals with the entangled relations that developed between Jews and Berbers in Morocco. From the beginnings of the Arab rule, Jews lived as Dhimmis under the protection of Arab or Berber dynasties in urban centres, or Berber tribes and clans in rural ones. They not only shared the same spaces and material culture with the Berbers but also popular beliefs and practices, such as the veneration of saints, magical thinking, folk medicine and a great repertoire of Berber songs, dances, tales and proverbs. However, their asymmetrical political status as protectors and protected and their divergent Jewish and Muslim faiths led Berbers to ambivalent misconceptions about Jews and their forms of life, despite their intimate coexistence and their complementary economic cooperation. After a long separation, Berbers and Jews are currently attempting to reconstruct their memories of the other, and both parties seem to idealise their shared past.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)18-30
    Number of pages13
    JournalEuropean Judaism
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    to a grant from the United States – Israel Binational Science Foundation. We visited some eighty Berber locations and twenty towns and recorded inter-views with dozens of Muslim Berbers about their memories of their shared life with Jews. We visited Tashemshit in August 1999 and interviewed several old men about their memories of Mimun Almaliḥ. These old men, in turn, enthusiastically shared their admiration of Almaliḥ with us. Mimun Almaliḥ passed away in or around 1990, at some seventy years of age.

    Publisher Copyright:
    © Leo Baeck College.


    • Ambivalence
    • Common beliefs
    • Dhimma protection
    • Economic cooperation
    • Intimacy
    • Jewish-Berber relations
    • Morocco
    • Reconstructed memory

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • History
    • Religious studies
    • Philosophy
    • Applied Psychology


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