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(1,197 words)

Author(s): Moshe Bar-Asher
Tafilalet (Tafilalt; Ar./Berb. Tāfīlālt) is a fertile region in southeastern Morocco, situated in the Ziz River basin on the northern edge of the Sahara Desert. It is famous for its date palm industry, and is the patrimonial home of the Filālī ( nisba or adjectival form) sharīfs (Cl. Ar. shurafā’; Coll. Mor. Ar. s horfa), the rulers of the Moroccan Alawid dynasty since the seventeenth century. Tafilalet was also the name of an administrative district under the French.Jews lived in the Tafilalet region at least as early as the end of the first millennium, when there was a Jewish community in…

Berdugo, Raphael ben Mordechai

(795 words)

Author(s): Moshe Bar-Asher
Raphael ben Mordechai Berdugo (1747–1821) was the most important scholar in the entire history of the Meknes Jewish community and one of the foremost religious figures in all of Morocco since the Spanish expulsion (1492). A member of the noted Berdugo family, Raphael attained a reputation as a great scholar and adjudicator (Heb. poseq) of Jewish law even as a youth. For a time, he served as head of the rabbinical court (Heb. bet din) in Meknès.Berdugo’s literary output included commentaries on the Bible, halakha, and aggada. He wrote three commentaries on the Bible: (1) Me Menuḥot (Still W…

Berdugo Family

(549 words)

Author(s): Moshe Bar-Asher
The rabbis of the Berdugo family flourished in Meknes from the end of the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Like the Toledanos, another family of Spanish exiles who arrived in Morocco at the end of the fifteenth century, the Berdugos were one of the most distinguished Jewish families in Meknès. Almost all of our information about these two great families dates from the eighteenth century and thereafter.Many households in Meknès bore the name Berdugo, but the family’s prestige and glory derived most especially from the great scholars who emerged during the course of i…

Lashoniyya, Talashont, Taqollit

(681 words)

Author(s): Moshe Bar-Asher
In most places where Jews settled in Morocco, the Arabic they spoke differed from the language of the local Muslims. It was only at the end of the twentieth century and the start of the twenty-first, when the size of the country’s Jewish population had dwindled greatly and Jews no longer lived in closed neighborhoods, that dialectic variations between Jews and Muslims blurred or disappeared. The distinctions were once apparent in every aspect of language—phonology, morphology, syntax, vocabulary, and semantics. For example, the consonant [k] exists in the dialect of Muslims in the Tafil…

Ksar es-Souk (Qaṣr al-Sūq)

(815 words)

Author(s): Moshe Bar-Asher
Ksar es-Souk (Qaṣr al-Sūq, Ar. fortified village of the market) is a large town in southeastern Morocco. It probably obtained its name from the large nearby market (Ar. sūq) that serviced the region. Since the time of King Hassan II (r. 1961–1999) it has been known as Errachidia (Ar. al-Rāshīdiyya). Situated in the district of Metaghra on the western bank of the Ziz River, Ksar es-Souk is about 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of the Red (Ḥamdūn) Mountain, the southernmost of the Atlas Mountains and the northern gateway to th…


(469 words)

Author(s): Moshe Bar-Asher
The town of Erfoud (Ar. Arfūd) in the Tafilalet region of Morocco is located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Ksar es-Souk and about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) north of Rissani. Although Jews had lived in the vicinity for centuries, the Jewish community was founded by several hundred Jews from other towns in the region, especially El Mâadid (al-Mʿādid), who settled there when the French protectorate government set about developing Erfoud. By 1931, there were 1,172 Jewish residents in a popul…