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Jewish Moroccan community raises funds to help neighbors rebuild after earthquake

The small local Jewish community was largely spared from tragedy

Illustrative - Women wait for donations, in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, in the village of Ighil Ntalghoumt, Morocco, Sept. 11, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Nacho Doce)

The local Jewish community of Marrakesh, the city that was most affected by the devastating earthquake in Morocco last Friday night, has launched a fundraising campaign to assist their affected neighbors within the city. The funds will also be used to restore the damaged Jewish quarter, including the synagogue and the Jewish cemetery.

No Jewish victims have been reported so far despite the high death toll from the earthquake, which currently stands at 2,800 and is expected to climb further.

“On the one hand, we’re glad we survived, but we feel pain for our friends and brothers and for everything happening around us. It's sad and difficult for us, but we’re trying to help as much as we can,” Makhlouf Ohayon, who lives in Marrakesh, told Ynet news.

Marrakesh’s Jewish community numbers about 120, while the majority of the kingdom’s 1,500 Jews live in Casablanca, which was not affected by the earthquake.

“I live in Gueliz, on the newer side of the city. Houses around the central synagogue, which itself suffered damage, were affected. The synagogue has a lot of cracks, but it didn't collapse,” Ohayon said.

“The entire Jewish community is trying to help. We’re collecting clothes, food, and some donations where available. They need food, water, and clothing because it's very cold in the mountains right now. The weather changes extremely fast there,” he added.

Menachem Danino, a Casablanca-born Israeli who runs a Facebook group for Moroccans in Israel told the Times of Israel, “All of the houses in the quarter were destroyed except the synagogue, which is fine with the exception of some cracks in the walls.”

Kobi Yifrach, an Israeli residing in Marrakesh told Ynet that several aid missions from Israel had already arrived.

“Private organizations like ZAKA, United Hatzalah, Israir, and several others came here on small aid missions, but a large Israeli delegation or a plane coming here would be a game-changer,” he said.

Israeli authorities said it was aware of 479 Israelis in the country at the time of the quake and that each one was accounted for, according to the Times of Israel.

The earthquake took place shortly before the start of a annual Jewish pilgrimage marking the death of a famous Moroccan rabbi and during the harvest season of etrogs, a citrus fruit that is part of the Jewish celebrations of the Jewish festival of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Kingdom of Morocco exports hundreds of thousands of etrogs annually. According to tradition, the first etrog trees were planted in the Atlas Mountains by Jews who fled after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and found shelter among the local Berber tribes.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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