(JTA) – Israeli, Moroccan and French researchers have discovered the remains of a small Jewish community in the mountains of Morocco, Haaretz reported Monday.
The ruins of the community’s synagogue in the small village of Tamanart – located on the outskirts of the Sahara Desert – were discovered during a preliminary investigation of Jewish sites in the area and after speaking to locals who remembered of their Jewish neighbors who had left the area 70 years ago.
Researchers say Jews lived here from the 16th century until the early 19th century. They recovered the scriptures, the documents and the Kabbalists amulets of the synagogue genizah, or hiding place for used texts that are no longer usable.
Orit Ouaknine-Yekutieli, a researcher on modern Morocco at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, told Haaretz that the site’s synagogue was damaged by looters as well as natural events like flooding, but researchers were able to recover texts and transfer them. to a secure location for further analysis.
Discovery comes weeks after King Mohammed VI of Morocco ordered restoration of hundreds of Jewish sites across the kingdom, and a year after Israel and Morocco agreed to formal diplomatic relations. The restoration plan includes the Tamanart site, as well as cemeteries and hundreds of synagogues.
It is believed that Jews first established communities in Morocco over 2,000 years ago. In the middle of the 20th century, the Jewish population reached a peak of 250,000. It is valued this there are only 2,000 Jews left today.