Newsweek

Morocco’s Muslim Monarch Is Preserving Jewish History

"We didn't care who was Jewish and who was Muslim. We were Moroccans—and human."
Chabad Rabbi Levi Banon hands a Ramadan meal package to a Muslim woman at a 500-year-old synagogue in the ancient Jewish quarter of Marrakesh, as Muslim members of Mimouna and Elmehdi Boudra (blue shirt), the president and co-founder of Mimouna, look on.
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A decade ago, when Elmehdi Boudra began attending college in his native Morocco, he didn’t expect to see swastikas scrawled on his door. Like almost every other student at his school, Boudra is Muslim. But growing up, his grandmother cooked him Jewish food and told him stories about Jewish friends—including the woman who nursed her. “We didn't care who was Jewish and who was Muslim,” Boudra recalls his grandmother saying. “We were Moroccans—and human.”

Yet Boudra’s peers didn’t like his fondness for Jewish culture, and they let him know it, both with the swastikas on his door and with the names they called him: rabbi, Zionist, a traitor to the Palestinian cause. “They never met Jews before,” says Boudra. “To them, Judaism is Israel. It’s the Palestinian conflict.”

For the past 10 years, Boudra’s organization, Mimouna, has worked to

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