Jewish Memories among the Fassi-Jewish Mellah
Fez, Morocco, among the popular spice markets and craft shops located in the turns and alleys of the Mellah, or ancient Jewish neighborhoods in Moroccan cities, there are traces of rich history mixed in scarlet color and the smell of smoke and mint find the fingerprints of former Moroccan Jews. Luxury Fez Tours is delighted to introduce you to the Mellah and help you to discover its history directly.
The Jewish fingerprints of the Mellah are concrete, not only because among the walls of these neighborhoods there are Jewish cemeteries and synagogues preserved, but because the Jewish community once lived here, the markets, which until today, are still filled with an amazing array of the finest items: everything is from good silver, Amber, and fine leather shoes to textiles and natural fragrances from Africa and beyond.
Among these luxurious products are glorious Jewish memorabilia, such as Easter paintings and pottery decorated with the Star of David, and calendars in centuries-old Hebrew. These are the commandments of former Moroccan Jews, publicly displayed between antique shops and covered lanes that have become the most popular tourist destinations in Morocco.
The first Mellah was established in 1438 in the oldest imperial city of Fez in Morocco, in which Jews played an important role in development, especially through their commercial skills and regional connections.
Although the Jews were forced to live in these walled areas until the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, a title in the Mellah was not always considered a disadvantage. The Mellah included large houses, and its main location is near the King’s Palace, it was considered in favor of the Jews and meant for more protection.
Nevertheless, over time, the streets of these narrow neighborhoods became crowded and populated with people, and it became a Ghetto (Jewish Neighborhoods). The Jews were trapped inside the inner walls of the demolished Mellah, and the regions were associated with the cursed “salt” land, as many Jews considered in Moroccan society. Historians claim that the term “Mellah” referred to the rituals of the Jewish community that it performed there: salting the heads of the Jews before their execution.