Jewish Music and Singing in Morocco (1/3)
Morocco, a country of multiculturalism/tamaghrabit [i]
Under the tree of Morocco which according to the late King Hassan II has roots deep in Africa, the trunk in the Arab-Muslim world, and the foliage in Europe, [ii] all its children have their place in its umbrage. No matter their beliefs, their religions, their languages, or their history. They all contribute -Muslims, Christians, and Jews- to a heritage born of a plural history, which has combined cultures, lands, languages, and religions: a dynamic culturalism of tolerance, vivre-ensemble, and forgiveness. [iii] Thus, multiculturalism refers to a cultural broth made of cultural practices: religious traditions, music, dance, art, etc.
Over the centuries, Morocco, a country whose roots have been irrigated by the streams of multiculturalism, has forged its own model in which everyone finds their place. A singularity inscribed in the fundamental law of the Kingdom and especially integrated into the collective consciousness of Moroccan society.
Few countries can boast of a national identity that is one and indivisible, a unity forged by the convergence of Arab-Islamic, and Amazigh components and which has been nourished and enriched by its African, Andalusian, Hebrew, and Mediterranean tributaries.
While in other countries, religion is used to divide and reject. In Morocco, it is a social cement, and it has always been a factor of peace, love, communion, and togetherness. A philosophy and way of life that, moreover, are based on a solid foundation of the institution of the Commandership of the Believers “imârat al-mu’minîne“, not Commandership of Muslims, that unites Moroccans of different religious beliefs.
The love that Moroccans of the Jewish faith have for their country of origin all over the world shows that Judaism has never been alien to Morocco, on the contrary, it has for over more than two millennia been an integral part of the culture of the country and still is today, and in spite of the fact that Moroccan Jews have gone to Israel and elsewhere. More than that the Moroccans of the diaspora, Muslims, Jews, and even Christians, have always expressed strong love for their country of origin.
It is only in this land that the Moroccan Jewish community offers original perspectives on the interpretation of Jewish life in the land of Islam, unlike in other countries in the immediate and distant environment. Today, literature, history, traditions, dialect, gastronomy, music, streets, and walls in Fez, Sefrou, Debdou, Meknes, Essaouira, Casablanca, or Tinghir testify to a valuable presence that has lasted through time and is, undoubtedly, a test to time. Moroccan Jews have gone but their spirit remains grand in the spaces they left behind and, mainly, in their hearts. [iv]
From the highest level of the State to the little people, through the different strata of society, the Jewish component has always had its place in the house of Morocco. [v]
Adopted in 2011, in the context of the Arab Spring, Morocco’s new Constitution recognizes the Hebrew component as part of the culture of the kingdom. The preamble states, quite clearly, that: [vi]
’’A sovereign Muslim State, attached to its national unity and to its territorial integrity, the Kingdom of Morocco intends to preserve, in its plentitude and its diversity, its one and indivisible national identity. Its unity, is forged by the convergence of its ArabIslamist, Berber [amazighe] and Saharan-Hassanic [saharo-hassanie] components, nourished and enriched by its African, Andalusian, Hebraic and Mediterranean influences [affluents]. The preeminence accorded to the Muslim religion in the national reference is consistent with [va de pair] the attachment of the Moroccan people to the values of openness, of moderation, of tolerance and of dialog for mutual understanding between all the cultures and the civilizations of the world.’’
This legal document attests to a successful marriage of traditions, habits, and customs of different cultures: Amazigh, Arab-Muslim, Hassani, Jewish, Andalusian, Mediterranean, and African, giving Morocco a rich and diverse cultural heritage whereby each region has its own particularities contributing to enriching the Moroccan cultural legacy.
Moroccan Jewish music tradition
Since the Middle Ages, Jewish musical and poetic [vii] practices in the Muslim West have evolved in line with Muslim practices and traditions of music [viii] and poetry, which developed in the Hispanic-Muslim and Arab-Berber cultural areas. [ix]
The reasons for this cultural complicity were numerous. The involvement of Jewish intellectual elites in Muslim cultural creation and even, at certain times, and under certain dynasties, their intervention in the management or proper support of the sovereign’s property, the case of tujjâr as-sultân, [x] or in the diplomacy of certain sovereigns, generated areas of common knowledge, transmission and cooperation, the repercussions of which are inscribed in the intense Jewish intellectual production, in the medieval times and later, both in medieval Judeo-Arabic and in Hebrew. [xi]
On the other hand, the economic and professional coexistence of the two communities, whose complementarity was vital for the Jewish communities, also multiplied the opportunities for personal and cultural encounters between Jews and Muslims. These encounters resulted in the permanent borrowing of oral and musical traditions by Jewish amateurs and professionals, [xii] who have integrated them into the cultural habitus of their community, while often giving them new social functions and semiotic values in accordance with canonical Jewish values and traditions. [xiii]
Centuries of living together inevitably leave their mark, except that it is not clear who marks who. The Jews of Morocco have always been part of the socio-economic and political landscape of the kingdom, without abandoning their own heritage, which has enriched the Arab-Muslim substratum of Morocco in the past and still does today indirectly though they have left the country. [xiv]
Moroccan-Jewish music is the result of the fusion of Moroccan and Andalusian cultures over time. With the development of the means of recording and the democratization of the vinyl, the music of the Jews of Morocco has spread worldwide and interpreters have emerged and risen to stardom.
This is the case of Samy El Maghribi, whose real name is Salomon Amzallag, who is one of the pioneers of the Moroccan classical song. In the musical style of Moroccan Shcabî (popular music) the singer Raymonde El Bidaouia imposed herself next to Cheikh Mwijo, Haim Boutbol, and Zohra El Fassia. Jewish artists have magnified the Jewish-Moroccan heritage highlighting the presence of Jewish songs in the Moroccan music scene that are taken up and sung by all Moroccans.
More contemporary artists such as Vanessa Paloma, a Judeo-Spanish singer specializing in the Judeo-Moroccan musical repertoire show us the depth of her musical heritage cradled by the Judeo-Spanish songs of her mother from Tangier.
After the “Reconquista”, exiled in the same way, Jews and Muslims lived together in exile in the countries of the Maghreb where they brought many elements of this brilliant civilization. The misfortune that befell them led both communities to the same song of regret: “asafi ‘ala diyâr al-Andalus” (Great is my regret for our past in the land of Andalusia). Thus, they had participated actively, for centuries, in the same history, and in the same national entity. They found a similar atmosphere in the host countries and quickly assimilated to the Arab-Amazigh culture, which was very similar to their own in many aspects. [xv]
Moors and Jews were going to live side by side again, almost merging: the same customs and mores, except for a few details, very similar, if not identical, common memory and cultural heritage that they were equally concerned about preserving from oblivion by having them enter either in the synagogue [xvi] or the mosque.
On this particular, point Jessica Roda and Stephanie Tara Schwartz write: [xvii]
‘’Throughout his life, Samy Elmaghribi was dedicated to the preservation, institutionalization, and transmission of heritage of mainly Moroccan liturgy and popular music that he associated with Al-Andalus (Arabo-Andalusian music). For him, his dedication to music was a way to recreate the home he left in Morocco, a home infused with nostalgia of a time and a place he quit at the peak of his career (Silver 2020). His interest in heritage-building was in constant dialogue with his contemporary creations, his fellow generation, and debates of the time. His actions both at the synagogue and on stage show us that, for him, preserving tradition meant focusing on transmission and reinterpretation. He clearly navigated, both during his experience as hazzan and pop singer, between solidifying existing heritage and imprinting his own individual signature. This preoccupation about the safeguarding and respecting of “traditional repertoire or practices” and the necessity to update these practices so that spiritual or musical leaders could adapt them to their times, is nothing new. Anthropologists and ethnomusicologists have shown how oral tradition is constituted by reception, reinterpretation, and transmission (Picard 2001), and is constantly modernized according to the times. In the case of Samy Elmaghribi, his experience—both at the synagogue and on stage—gave Moroccan music of Al-Andalus, both through Jewish liturgy in Hebrew and popular styles in Arabic, a chance to be recognized as art music in the Western and global world.’’
‘’La musique juive du Maroc / Morocco’s Jewish Music” is the title of a book by Moroccan researcher Ahmed Aydoun, who has undertaken to make the world discover the facets of the vast and varied Moroccan culture. [xviii] Moroccan Jews have always been part of the socio-economic landscape of the Kingdom and have never abandoned their own heritage, which has enriched the Arab and Amazigh Muslim legacy for centuries. For the author, the interest in Jewish music is, therefore,
“an expression of our attachment to our Moroccan identity, the foundation of several cultures and religions.” [xix]
In the same vein and according to the Moroccan artist of the Jewish faith, Maxime Karoutchi,
“Jewish music in Morocco is essentially Moroccan music.’’ [xx]
He did not fail to pay tribute to Albert Suissa, one of the greatest Moroccan composers of the Jewish faith, who wrote nearly 1000 Moroccan songs.
As an integral part of the Moroccan cultural heritage, Jewish music is worth today, according to Ahmed Aydoun, to be catalogued and disseminated in its original form,
“before it is distorted by the revivals inspired by the era of time.” [xxi]
Judeo-Maghrebi music is often a popular derivative of the Nûba, and often begins in the same way: in long, poignantly nostalgic vocalizations against a background of very light strings and percussion. Then the whole thing gets carried away in a formidable arabesque ornamented with honeyed voices. Among the voices there are: Mouzino, Sheikh Zouzou, Blond Blond, Samy EAytal Maghribi, Salim Halali, Raoul Jouno among men and Leïla Sfez, Habbiba Msika, Louisa Tounsia, Saliha, and Zohra El Fassia among the women.
Judeo-Andalusian music has not only enriched Moroccan Judaism in its particularity but has also contributed to the development of the substantial values of Moroccan culture. This is visibly present at the heart of Andalusian music in the full extent of its repertoire. [xxii]
The Maghreb countries belong to the same origins, to the same civilization, and have experienced a similar cultural process. Several variants of their common artistic heritage come from the same source, the one commonly referred to as Arab-Andalusian music. Thus, Malûf is widespread in Tunisia, Attarab al-Gharnati is rooted mainly in Algeria, while the music known as al-Âla is exclusively associated with Morocco.
Indeed, the association of Andalusian music with Morocco emanates from an undeniable historical truth, resulting from its situation in the northwest of the African continent, and its proximity to the Andalusian country. Therefore, Morocco was naturally inclined to see its music closely influenced by the artistic contribution of the mass of Andalusians who had taken refuge in the country.
Over time, the Andalusian culture in its various components had spread through the oral tradition and had taken root, particularly in the main historical cities such as Tetouan, Fez, and Salé, while the cities of Rabat and Oujda had adopted a special kind of Andalusian repertoire famous in Algeria, Tlemcen, and Algiers, and which is known as Attarab al-Gharnati.
Andalusian and Attarab al-Gharnati music is taught in every cultural complex or school in the main cities of Israel. Jewish artists have not only contributed to popular culture in terms of musical interpretation. Over the centuries they have, also, composed many songs in dârija (Moroccan Arabic dialect).
Moroccan Andalusian music is thus a synthesis of Arab, Amazigh, and Spanish musical traditions. It is clearly different from oriental music. Andalusian music has seen a great collaboration between Jews and Muslims and Morocco has counted great authors, composers and Jewish performers. [xxiii]
This music is present in all Moroccan homes and in many Algerian and Tunisian homes, also. It is interesting because it offered and still offers a particular ground of collaboration and understanding between Jews and Muslims as much in Morocco as in Algeria or elsewhere in the Maghreb. [xxiv]
The economic and professional coexistence of Moorish and Jewish communities, whose complementarity was vital for the Jewish communities, also multiplied the opportunities for personal and cultural encounters between Jews and Muslims. These encounters resulted in the permanent borrowing of oral and musical traditions by Jewish amateurs and professionals and the mixing of cultural and artistic traditions. [xxv]
On the nature of Andalusian music and its identity, Dwight Reynolds writes: [xxvi]
“Among the many intellectual and artistic contributions with roots in medieval Islamic Spain , Andalusian music is probably the most widely known in the Arab world and the least well known in the West.1 Andalusian music certainly merits attention in its own right as a rich tradition that has been transmitted orally for more than a thousand years and that continues to be performed in many regions of the Middle East , but it also merits special attention as the primary vehicle for the collective memory of, and nostalgia for, medieval Islamic Spain , which constitutes such powerful aspects of Arab and Sephardic Jewish cultures. Although in modern times we may “remember” al- Andalus through images of monumental architecture, such as the Alhambra and the Great Mosque of Córdoba, these images did not circulate among Middle Eastern Arabs or Jews during the centuries after the expulsions. The writings of even the most famous Andalusian authors, such as Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Ibn ʿArabi , Ibn Hazm , Judah Halevi , Samuel Hanagid , and Maimonides , were only studied by a small intellectual elite. It is rather Andalusian poetry—specifically poetry conveyed in song—that has spoken powerfully to Arab and Sephardic communities over the centuries through performances in diverse contexts such as weddings, festivals, cafés, Sufi lodges, synagogues, wealthy private households, and royal courts. In the daily lived experience of Arabs and Sephardic Jews, songs of al- Andalus (or in the Andalusian style) have remained the single- most potent catalyst for the deep emotional ties felt even now toward a society that dis-appeared half a millennium ago.”
In recent years, Jews of Moroccan origin living in Israel and elsewhere have made contact with Morocco again and this population is gradually rediscovering Andalusian music. The Andalusian Orchestra of Israel [xxvii] has been established in 1994 and offers a new field of collaboration between Jews and Arabs. Moroccan Muslim musicians perform in Israel, and Jewish musicians from Israel and elsewhere perform in Morocco and share generously experiences and artistic creations. [xxviii]
In Morocco, people are rediscovering the great authors, composers, and performers of North African Jews such as Samy el Maghribi (1922-2008), Salim Halali (1920 – 2005), and many others, and this country is paying tribute to them and making them its national heritage of which it is very proud.
In 2007, Maurice El Medioni was at the heart of the rendezvous of Jewish-Arab music at the 4th Festival of Essaouira with the Israeli Rabbi Haim Louk. In 2008, the 5th Andalusian Festival of Essaouira was dedicated to the work of Samy el Maghribi, whose real name is Salomon Amzallag, known, also, as “The Lion of Morocco”. His daughter Yolande Amzallag performed there with Maxime Karoutchi, who is often seen on television sets and stages in Morocco with local Andalusian orchestras.
Posthumously Samy el Maghribi was decorated with the wissâm of national merit of the order of the commander, which was awarded to him by HM King Mohammed VI on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Moroccan television, also, devoted a special program to him and another one was broadcasted at the time of his death. His funeral was attended by Ambassador Mohamed Tangi who read verses from the Koran, and an Algerian director who was preparing a film about Samy.
In 2005, Essaouira paid tribute to another great Judeo-Moroccan-Algerian musician Salim Halali (1920- 2005) born in Annaba (Bône) in the Jewish family of Boulanger. At the age of 14 he left Algeria for Paris. In 1938 he met Mahiedine Bachertazi and later he sympathized with the singer, humorist, author, and composer Mohamed El Kamal. Following this meeting and their collaboration, appeared the first records of Salim, with tunes such as “Mounira ya Mounira“, “Nadera” and “Andra“. ‘’Nadera” and “Andaloussia” became the biggest successes before the Second World War in North Africa.
During the Nazi occupation, Salim Halali will be saved, on royal instruction, by the Moroccan Kadour Benghbrit, the first Rector and founder of the mosque of Paris who will make him pass for a Muslim, by inscribing the name of his father on a tomb in the Muslim cemetery of Bobigny. Some of his relatives, alas, were murdered in the Nazi extermination camps. [xxix]
After the war, he created in Paris the oriental cabarets “Ismailia follies” and “Sérail”. The great Arab Diva Oum Keltoum admitted to having a weakness for his particular voice. In 1949 he left France, to settle in Casablanca where he created the oriental cabaret “Le Coq d’or.”
You can follow Professor Mohamed Chtatou on Twitter: @Ayurinu
[i] A feeling of belonging to Morocco in its religious and ethnic pluralism.
[ii] B., Safia. ‘’Hassan II and the Tree Metaphor: A Reflection of the Plural Moroccan Identity’’, Dune Magazine, https://www.dunemagazine.net/eng-trans/hassan-ii-and-the-tree-metaphor
Palacio, Ana. ‘’Feuilles en Europe, racines africaines’’, Libération, February 19, 2019, https://www.libe.ma/Feuilles-en-Europe-racines-africaines_a106237.html
‘’Le Maroc est un arbre dont les racines sont ancrées en Afrique mais qui respire par ses feuilles en Europe’’
“Morocco is a tree whose roots are anchored in Africa but which breathes through its leaves in Europe’’
[iii] Chtatou, Mohamed. ‘’La diversité culturelle et linguistique au Maroc’’, Asinag 2, 2009, pp. 149-161. https://www.ircam.ma/sites/default/files/doc/asinag-2/mohamed-chtatou-la-diversite-culturelle-et-linguistique-au-maroc-pour-un-multiculturalisme-dynamique.pdf
[iv] Chtatou, Mohamed. ‘’The Departure of Moroccan Jews to Israel Bitterly Regretted’’, Jewishwebsite, September 17, 2019. https://jewishwebsite.com/featured/the-departure-of-moroccan-jews-to-israel-bitterly-regretted/46551/
[v] Hachkar, Kamal. ‘’Tinghir-Jérusalem : Les échos du Mellah’’, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcZoLaMvaP0
Synopsis: The story of an exile, Tinghir-Jerusalem, Echoes of the Mellah follows the fate of the Jewish community that left the Berber village of Tinghir in Morocco in the 1950s and 1960s. Kamal Hachkar, a native of Tinghir, takes us to the crossroads of cultures and makes the songs, voices and stories of this dual identity shared by Jews and Muslims resonate.
[vii] Decter, Jonathan P. “<strong>A Myrtle in the Forest:</Strong> Landscape and Nostalgia in Andalusian Hebrew Poetry.” Prooftexts, vol. 24, no. 2, 2004, pp. 135-66. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2979/pft.2004.24.2.135. Accessed 31 Jul. 2022.
[viii] Reynolds, Dwight. “The Music of al- Andalus: Meeting Place of Three Cultures”. A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations: From the Origins to the Present Day, edited by Abdelwahab Meddeb and Benjamin Stora, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013, pp. 970-984. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400849130-080
[ix] Scheindlin, Raymond P. “Old Age in Hebrew and Arabic Zuhd Poetry”. Fierro, Maribel. Judíos y musulmanes en al-Andalus y el Magreb : Contactos intelectuales. Judíos en tierras de Islam I. Madrid : Casa de Velázquez, 2002, pp. 85-104. http://books.openedition.org/cvz/2726
[x] Abitbol, Michel. Les commerçants du roi Tujjar al-Sultan: Une élite économique judéo-marocaine au XIXème siècle. Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose, 1999.
Description: This book traces the internal history of a Judeo-Moroccan social group that played a leading role in the economic life of the Sharifian Kingdom on the eve of the French Protectorate: the Tujjar al-Sultan or “King’s Merchants” who, in their own way, attempted to stem the irresistible expansion of European trade at a time when Morocco was experiencing the last stirrings of its pre-colonial independence. Based on a unique collection of private archives, dating from the second half of the nineteenth century, the book is devoted to the Corcos family of Mogador, who came to settle in this city at the request of Sultan Mawlay ‘Abd al-Rahman b.Hisham. Benefiting from various privileges, the “King’s merchants” did not live in the Mellah like the rest of the Jewish population, but in the Qasba, the administrative district of Mogador where each of them occupied several houses and shops that the Makhzen put at their disposal, along with an initial installation loan accompanied, in most cases, by numerous tax benefits. This corpus of documents, consisting of letters from all of the country’s high political dignitaries, is an incomparably precise tool for learning about the social structure, modes of action, and worldview of an entire segment of Moroccan Jewish society, as well as the type of relations it was able to develop with its Muslim neighbors, those who, like it, belonged to Morocco’s burgeoning bourgeoisie, whose interests generally coincided with those of the kingdom’s political class.
[xi] Guignard, Michel. “Les Musiques Dans Le Monde de l’islam : Un Congrès à Assilah (Maroc), 8-13 Août 2007.” Cahiers d’ethnomusicologie, vol. 21, 2008, pp. 269-86. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40240679
[xii] Joseph Chetrit. “Music and Poetry as a Shared Cultural Space for Muslims and Jews in Morocco”, in Studies in History and Culture of North African Jewry. Proceedings of the Symposium at Yale University, April 25, 2010, Bar-Asher, Moshe & Steven D. Fraade (eds.), pp 65-102. https://www.academia.edu/8721510/Joseph_Chetrit_Music_and_Poetry_as_a_Shared_Cultural_Space_for_Muslims_and_Jews_in_Morocco_
[xiii] Benichou Gottreich, Emily. Jewish Morocco: A History from Pre-Islamic to Postcolonial Times. London: I. B. Taurus, 2021.
Description: The history of Morocco cannot effectively be told without the history of its Jewish inhabitants. Their presence in Northwest Africa pre-dates the rise of Islam and continues to the present day, combining elements of Berber (Amazigh), Arab, Sephardi, and European culture. Emily Gottreich examines the history of Jews in Morocco from the pre-Islamic period to post-colonial times, drawing on newly acquired evidence from archival materials in Rabat. Providing an important reassessment of the impact of the French protectorate over Morocco, the author overturns widely accepted views on Jews’ participation in Moroccan nationalism – an issue often marginalized by both Zionist and Arab nationalist narratives – and breaks new ground in her analysis of Jewish involvement in the Istiqlal and its aftermath. Fitting into a growing body of scholarship that consciously strives to integrate Jewish and Middle Eastern studies, Emily Gottreich here provides an original perspective by placing pressing issues in contemporary Moroccan society into their historical, and in their Jewish, contexts.
[xiv] Chetrit Joseph; Jane S. Gerber & Drora Arussy. Jews and Muslims in Morocco. Their Intersecting Worlds. Lanham, Maryland, USA: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.
Description: Multiple traditions of Jewish origins in Morocco emphasize the distinctiveness of Moroccan Jewry as indigenous to the area, rooted in its earliest settlements, and possessing deep connections and associations with the historic peoples of the region. The creative interaction of Moroccan Jewry with the Arab and Berber cultures was noted in the Jews’ use of Morocco’s multiple languages and dialects, characteristic poetry, and musical works as well as their shared magical rites and popular texts and proverbs. In Jews and Muslims in Morocco: Their Intersecting Worlds historians, anthropologists, musicologists, Rabbinic scholars, Arabists, and linguists analyze this culture, in all its complexity and hybridity. The volume’s collection of essays spans political and social interactions throughout history, cultural commonalities, traditions, and halakhic developments. As Jewish life in Morocco has dwindled, much of what is left are traditions maintained in Moroccan ex-pat communities and memories of those who stayed and those who left. The volume concludes with shared memories from the perspective of a Jewish intellectual from Morocco, a Moroccan Muslim scholar, an analysis of a visual memoir painted by the nineteenth-century artist, Eugène Delacroix, and a photo essay of the vanished world of Jewish life in Morocco.
[xv] Chetrit, Joseph. “L’identité judéo-marocaine après la dispersion des communautés : Mémoire, culture et identité des juifs du Maroc en Israël”. Abécassis, Frédéric, et al. La bienvenue et l’adieu | 2 : Migrants juifs et musulmans au Maghreb (XVe-XXe siècle). Casablanca : Centre Jacques-Berque, 2012, pp. 135-164. http://books.openedition.org/cjb/178
[xvi] Roda, Roda & Stephanie Tara Schwartz. ‘’Home beyond Borders and the Sound of Al-Andalus.
Jewishness in Arabic; the Odyssey of Samy Elmaghribi’’, MDPI, 2020.
Abstract: In their conversation about music, Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim discuss a process of seeking home in music and literature. For Moroccan-Jewish superstar Samy Elmaghribi (Solomon Amzallag), who migrated to France and Israel and then settled for most of his life in Montreal, Canada, the reference to Al-Andalus through the sound of the nouba became his home. Beginning his career in his native country of Morocco as a singer and composer of modern Moroccan music, in Montreal, Samy Elmaghribi became the cantor in the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, the oldest Jewish congregation in Canada. Based on ethnographic research and investigation within
the archives of the artist, the authors suggest that Samy Elmaghribi created a sense of home in music, a homeness, one that transcends our present understanding of Arabness and Jewishness, religiosity and secularism, tradition and creativity. Focus on Samy Elmaghribi, an artistic persona emblematic of his generation, demonstrates how the contemporary reassessment of renowned Jewish artists’ North African heritage is often misread in light of the political present. This example encourages us to rethink the musical legacy to which these North African Jews contributed beyond what is labelled Judeo-Arabic, traditional, religious, or secular.
[xviii] Aydoun, Ahmed. Morocco’s Jewish Music: La Musique Juive au Maroc. Rabat: Marsam, 2020.
Morocco’s Jewish Music with chapters on important Jewish Moroccan singers. This is an anthology of all the major Moroccan Jewish singers. This book is in English, French, and Arabic. From Salim Halali; Haim Louk, Pinhas Cohen, Samy Elmaghribi, Sapho, opera singer David Serero, Zohra El Fassiya, Emile Zrihan and many more. This book also addresses the Jewish contribution to Moroccan music and culture.
[xix] Gharbi, Mishka. ‘’ La musique juive du Maroc d’Ahmed Aydoun, un Beau Livre en trois langues’’, Le Courrier de l’Atlas, January 25, 2022. https://www.lecourrierdelatlas.com/la-musique-juive-du-maroc-dahmed-aydoun-un-beau-livre-en-trois-langues/
[xxii] Fenton, Paul B. ‘’La place de la musique andalouse dans le vécu du juif marocain’’, Horizons Maghrébins – Le droit à la mémoire, 43, 2000, pp. 82-86. https://www.persee.fr/doc/horma_0984-2616_2000_num_43_1_1904
[xxiii] Guettat, Mahmoud. La musique arabo-andalouse. L’empreinte du Maghreb. Paris/Montréal : El Ouns/Fleurs sociales, 2000.
Description: Mahmoud Guettat, with erudition and scientific rigor, delivers here the most exhaustive synthesis on Arab-Andalusian music and more generally on Arab music. This remarkable sum deals with the different aspects of this thousand-year-old heritage, still alive: Musical-musicological, poetic, socio-cultural, historical… and multiple relationships of exchange between oriental and Mediterranean cultures are underlined, especially with the music of medieval Europe. No essential field escapes the sagacity of this researcher who, for more than thirty years, has not ceased to confront the practice of this art and the teaching of the Great Masters with the thorough examination of rich documentation and manuscripts partly unpublished. Thus, the Arab-Muslim civilization in which the Andalusian-Maghrebian tradition was born and flourished is brought to light; and, for the first time, the place of the Maghreb in the elaboration of these vast Arab-Andalusian cantatas is given the importance it deserves.
[xxiv] Aydoun, Ahmed. Musiques du Maroc. Casablanca : Éditions Eddif, 1992.
This work is a general overview, one of the first, on the musical diversity of Morocco. Enriched for centuries by the Kingdom’s privileged geographical position and diverse cultural influences, Moroccan music has become a crossroads of styles and contributions of all kinds, from the Berber substratum to Arab modalism, passing through Andalusian refinement and the Saharan and sub-Saharan African rhythm.
This book of technical and analytical information, which will be of particular interest to musicians, is also a history book making it accessible to music lovers in general.
[xxv] Campbell, Kay. ‘’Listening for Andalusian’’, Aramco World, Volume 62, Number 4 July/August 2011, https://archive.aramcoworld.com/issue/201104/listening.for.al-andalus.htm
‘’Anthropologist Jonathan Shannon of New York’s Hunter College writes about the music and culture of al-Andalus. “Today, people look at our world full of conflict, and romantically view the period of al-Andalus as one of cultural tolerance where Muslims, Jews and Christians all got along and created wonderful poetry, music, food and architecture. They think that if we want to understand tolerance today, let’s look back to medieval Spain. Some people see that as a potential loose model for how the world should be.” Those people, he says, and many modern Arabs as well, often see al-Andalus as a “golden age.” In Spain itself, after centuries of willful forgetting of the contributions of Muslims and Jews to the national history, Spanish musicians and artists have for some decades reveled in a kind of willful remembering—and re-mythologizing—of their multicultural past.’’
[xxvi]Reynolds, Dwight. “The Music of al- Andalus: Meeting Place of Three Cultures”. A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations: From the Origins to the Present Day, op. cit.
The Israeli Andalus Orchestra has become, since its inception in 1994, one of the most exciting and leading phenomena in the cultural dynamics of Israel, and the highest and worthiest symbol of the re-emerging Middle-Eastern Jewish culture. The Orchestra was founded in the port city of Ashdod, where it still maintains its artistic home. It has begun a fascinating cultural journey to musical and cultural focal points in Israel and around the world, which is of special interest to admirers of Andalusian music. The Orchestra has performed and still performs in well-known cultural centers in Israel such as the Tel Aviv Museum, the Opera House, the Tel Aviv Cultural Center, Binyanai HaUmah, and the Jerusalem Theater. This is in addition to their outstanding success in international cultural centers such as Central Park in New York, Montreal, Duc-Sur-Sud Festival in Marseille, Sphinx Festival in Brussels, and Los Angeles.
[xxviii] Elmaleh, Raphael David & George Ricketts. Jews Under Moroccan Skies: Two Thousand Years of Jewish Life. Bhilar, Maharashtra, India: Gaon Books, 2012.
Description: Jews under Moroccan Skies tells the story of Jewish life in Morocco, describing in realistic detail how Jews and Muslims interweaved their lives in peace for centuries. The authors give us the rich history of Berber Jews, the Moroccan tzadikim, and Jewish mysticism in the country. They also describe the cultural differences between the Judeo-Spanish communities of the North, the Francophone urban Jews, and the Judeo-Arabic and Judeo-Berber traditions. “No chapter in the long history of the Jewish people has more power and more relevance to our contemporary world than Moroccan Jewry. And it is the least known, by far! This wonderful book will draw you into its mystery, captivating and capturing your imagination. If you don’t want to be tempted to travel, don’t read this book. You will never be satisfied until you see it with your own eyes accompanied by the unparalleled teacher and guide, Raphael David Elmaleh! People all over the world have been waiting for Raphy to put his words down on paper. This magnificent book is the result. It is a gem!” — Peter A. Geffen, Founder, and Executive Director KIVUNIM Founder, The Abraham Joshua Heschel School, New York.
[xxix] Bellaïche, Raoul. ‘’Salim Halali, le Prince du rythme’’, Je chante magazine n° 12, April 27, 2018. https://archive.wikiwix.com/cache/index2.php?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.jechantemagazine.net%2Fsingle-post%2F2018%2F04%2F27%2Fsalim-halali-le-prince-du-rythme#federation=archive.wikiwix.com
Released in 2011, the film Des hommes libres, directed by Ismaël Ferroukhi, brought back to memory Salim Halali, an extremely popular singer throughout North Africa from the late 1930s. In the film, the artist is played by the Israeli Arab actor Mahmoud Shalaby and dubbed by the Moroccan Jewish singer Pinhas Cohen.