A theater troupe from Israel’s Habima National Theater performed the Israeli musical “Bustan Sephardi” [“Spanish Orchard”] last week, a comedy about Moroccan Jews who settle in the Old City of Jerusalem.
“Bustan Sephardi” is performed in both Hebrew and Ladino, which is the language of the Spanish Jews who left Spain in the 15th century.
The play is an update of the original, which was written by the fifth Israeli president, Yitzhak Navon, in 1969. Navon was born in Israel but his mother was a Moroccan Jew.
Navon’s son, Erez, prompted taking the play to Morocco; he credited the birth of “Bustan Sephardi” to outcry from Sephardic Jews “who were seeing their culture vanish and being silenced.”
According to reports on Israel’s Channel 12 news, Moroccans received the play well, with one local who attended stating, “In Morocco there were once Muslims and Jews living together. Now it’s all very complicated. I’m happy to be here.”
Israel and Morocco have had warming ties since the signing of the Abraham Accords but the hostility has not vanished yet, with Morocco’s national team unfurling a Palestinian flag on the field while celebrating their World Cup win over Spain.
Nevertheless, according to Morocco’s Youth, Culture and Communications Minister Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid, “There are many Moroccans in Israel, so for us, this [‘Bustan Sephardi’] is a bridge for the community in Israel and Moroccans here.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.