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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thousands of Jews go on pilgrimage to Morocco

From AFP:

Thousands of Jews from Morocco, Israel and other parts of the world have over the past week carried out an annual pilgrimage to the Islamic nation to honour celebrated rabbis.

Morocco may not be the likeliest of Jewish pilgrim destinations, but the north African nation has for centuries had a vibrant Jewish population and some 1,200 of the faith's pious ancestors are buried in cemeteries here. In recent days, about 5,000 pilgrims have gathered to pray for peace at sanctuaries and gravesites.

Perhaps the most famous of these burial grounds is that of Amran Ben Diwan, a venerated rabbi who was interred 250 years ago in the mountains of Ouazzane, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the capital Rabat.

Ben Diwan's tomb, nestled in a Jewish cemetery among acres of olive trees, was placed under police guard and only people who had been authorised by Morocco's Jewish community were allowed access.

The pilgrimage will finish Saturday, following five days of prayers and celebration, with pilgrims hurling candles into a large fire by Ben Diwan's tomb.
Arab media reports that no Israelis attended last week's Lag B'Omer pilgrimage to Tunisia, but this one in Morocco is attracting many Israeli Jews.