“Not only are we here, all seven sisters, we are here with our husbands as well. We are here to make a “seuda hodaya”, a Meal of Thanksgiving. We are here to thank the Almighty for saving us from a dangerous situation.”
“We are the Nachmani family from Casablanca in Morocco. Our name was a very common Jewish name there. It all started in Elul 1954. You see, the French left Morocco and the Arabs started to take control. It became very dangerous for us Jews. Our father used to take care of the grave site of Chacham David Ha Levy (also known as Rabbi Dra,) in Dimnet, two hours travel outside of Casablanca. Rabbi Dra performed so many miracles and was loved in his lifetime and after his death. In Elul 1954, one of our Arab neighbors said to our mother, of blessed memory; “I have seven sons and you have seven daughters. Give your daughters to marry my sons. It has become very dangerous for you here. If we mix, you might survive.” That night our father had a dream. His beloved Rabbi Dra, who’s grave he was taking care of so lovingly, came to him in a dream. He said: “You have to leave immediately with your family to Eretz Israel. ” Our father hesitated and said to him “Who will take care of your grave?” Rabbi Dra answered “Just go to Israel and every year, at the day of your departure, go to the grave of King David, my neshamah, my soul will be there.”
The family left that same night, Elul 6, 1954. They left in secret with nothing, only what they could carry. “Every year since, on this date, we make a Thanksgiving Meal, coming here to the grave of King David for afternoon and evening prayer services, bringing a lot of food to celebrate and later in the evening we all go to Haifa for a big festive meal, all seven sisters and seven Jewish husbands. We are happy together, sing Jewish songs and share words of Torah.”
Interestingly, the Midrash tells that when King David saw his end approaching, he asked Gd on which day he would die, and Gd informed him that he would pass away on a Shabbat. From then on until he passed away, at the end of every Shabbat, David would hold a Feast of Thanksgiving for being kept alive another week. King David, the “Sweet singer of Israel” used to rise at midnight, reading from the Torah and singing Tehillim/Psalms. He wrote 73 of the 150 Psalms.
Like in the time of the First and Second Temple, when a Thanksgiving Offer was made after crossing the sea, crossing the desert, release from captivity or recovery from a serious illness, the Nachmani family comes every year to this sacred site to make a Feast of Thanksgiving. Ever since that faithful night of Elul 1954 when they left Casablanca in a hurry, they are grateful for their life in Israel. When they were curiously asked about the reason for their celebration, they had the opportunity to share the great wonders of G-d’s grace and goodness. Life in Eretz Israel is a gift!