Intimacy, Cooperation and Ambivalence

Social, Economic and Cultural Interaction between Jews and Berbers in Morocco

in European Judaism
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  • 1 University of Haifa
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This study deals with the entangled relations that developed between Jews and Berbers in Morocco. From the beginnings of the Arab rule, Jews lived as Dhimmis under the protection of Arab or Berber dynasties in urban centres, or Berber tribes and clans in rural ones. They not only shared the same spaces and material culture with the Berbers but also popular beliefs and practices, such as the veneration of saints, magical thinking, folk medicine and a great repertoire of Berber songs, dances, tales and proverbs. However, their asymmetrical political status as protectors and protected and their divergent Jewish and Muslim faiths led Berbers to ambivalent misconceptions about Jews and their forms of life, despite their intimate coexistence and their complementary economic cooperation. After a long separation, Berbers and Jews are currently attempting to reconstruct their memories of the other, and both parties seem to idealise their shared past.

Contributor Notes

Joseph Yossi Chetrit is professor emeritus at the University of Haifa, where he taught French grammar and socio-pragmatics. His research concerns Jewish culture in North Africa, and he has published numerous books and dozens of articles on Judeo-Arabic and Judeo-Berber dialects, Jewish Poetry and proverbs, and socio-cultural and historical issues.

European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe