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Purim is the big festival here — we give presents for Purim rather than Chanukah. They were cattle merchants. In the s, a member of my family was killed by a Spanish cannon ball. In the s, the community passed a resolution refusing to recognise intermarried couples who wanted to move to Gibraltar. Fewer than five percent marry out now.

People are marrying younger and having bigger families. To subscribe, visit jewishrenaissance. Masa Israel: A year to make a difference. By Deborah Cicurel. Photographer Jonny Baker: An eye for fashion! By Francine Wolfisz. Cask your eyes on this! The Whisky Event returns. Whisky business! The art of inspiring vulnerable children. By Jewish News Reporter. Are you getting the Holocaust compensation you deserve? Lasting Power of Attorney. Aviv Appeal. By Brigit Grant. Jewish life in Morocco began in antiquity and legends relate about the settlement of Jews in Biblical times.

Epigraphic evidence shows the existence of Jews in Morocco in the early centuries of the Common Era. They succeeded in converting several Berber tribes and in establishing a powerful community. Under Arab rule Jewish life underwent ups and downs. A period of decline starting in the 14th century was followed by a flourishing era with the arrival of the Jews expelled from Spain.

An exciting and interesting meeting of the local and the Sephardi Jews led to religious and cultural clashes and symbiosis. Morocco became a center of mysticism and a haven for the conversos. While Jews lived in their special quarters, the mellahs, they developed a rich and fascinating way of life. From the 18th century European influence affected deeply Jewish life and with the establishment of the French protectorate the Jews of Morocco underwent a serious transformation.

Our visit will concentrate on the remains of a fascinating Jewish past besides sites of general historical interest. The seminar will examine the history, religion, culture, folklore and customs of Moroccan Jewry. Drive to Rabat, capital of the nation since independence.

Sol Hachuel

Visit R. Proceed to Udaya Gardens and the Kasbah the Fortress. Kosher lunch boxes. Drive to Fez, the spiritual, intellectual and cultural capital of Morocco. Kosher dinner. Observe further Jewish remains in the Mellah. Visit the Jewish cemetery. Proceed to King's Palace, one of the most sumptuous complexes in Morocco.

Visit the Medina the original Arab part of a Moroccan town. Otherwise, they pleaded, the entire community would suffer. The pleading was to no avail. She remained resolved, responding that she would maintain her untainted commitment to Judaism until the very end. According to Jewish versions of the story, prison guards were finally sent to brutalize and torture her, to forcefully persuade her to abandon her faith, convert and marry the Sultan.

However, the torture, brute force, and terror fell short. She refused, outright.

The branches of Solika's Family

Solica remained strong in her heart and in her mind, and would not betray her faith. According to recent articles, given the resolute attitude of Solica not to renounce her religion, the Sultan had no choice but to take into account the opinion of the Muslims of Fez, of Tangiers and of other parts of the empire. The political situation in Morocco was sensitive.

France had conquered Algeria and was bearing down on Morocco. If it was clear that Solica could not be coerced into converting, any effort or attempt by a member of the court or by the sultan himself to reverse the sentence would appear to be a reaction to outside pressure and therefore an insult to Islam and its laws. The moment that witnesses testified that Solica was an apostate Muslim, the matter became public, and within the Moroccan context of , such publicity served to warn others that death is the appropriate treatment for apostates from Islam.

The Sultan therefore decided to refer the matter to the main religious court for a ruling under Sharia law. The Kadi gave Solica one last chance to recant so that she could live happily. Otherwise, she would be executed. Solica re stated that she had told the Kadi and the Pasha of Tangiers and the Sultan and the Kadi of Fez, as well as the rabbis of Fez, and anybody else who would listen that she had never renounced her religion. Stoic and impassive, she replied that she preferred death to conversion, as she was born Jewish and as a Hebrew she wished to die.

The Kadi and his court ruled that the Jewess should be immediately beheaded, the event to take place in the public square, on market day, in the presence of an immense crowd of both Moors and Israelites. The sultan instructed the executioner to wound Hachuel first and offer her one last chance to convert. He hoped that the girl would get scared, and accept the conversion, but Hachuel refused and preferred death to changing her religion.


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The right hand of the executioner separated the head from the trunk, which fell to earth in a pool of blood. The Jewish community of Fez was awestruck by the life and the death of Hachuel. They had to pay for the retrieval of her corpse, and the bloodstained earth for a Jewish burial at the Jewish cemetery. She was declared a martyr. One version holds that the Jews of the Burial Society rushed in, picked up the corpse and the earth generously soaked with blood, and wrapped a canvas bag around her.

The body was then loaded onto the shoulders of two of the men moving toward the door of the Jewish quarter.

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Others followed, carrying the sacred bundle of blood-soaked earth. In order to break through the threatening and pursuing crowd, the Jewish men threw handfuls of coins to the left and to the right. The crowd responded eagerly, stopping to retrieve the money, which widened the distance between the Jews and the rabble. Upon reaching the Mellah, they found the door locked, as the authorities had been afraid of an invasion and pillaging of the Jewish Quarter.

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The men of the Burial Society detoured around the city, constantly being pursued by the fanatical mob to which the Jews continued to throw silver coins to appease them. They arrived at the foot of the great outer wall of the city where the Jewish cemetery was located. The wrapped body was hoisted across the high wall and carried through the Mellah by the Jews who formed two lines. A public burial was held so that all the Jewish men, women, and children of the Mellah could participate. They threw gold coins left and right before the soldiers.

They buried her head, body, and the blood-soaked earth in the grave of Rabbi Eliayu Hassarfati who had died not long before. When the soldiers came looking for the head in the Mellah , they could not find it. Veneration and the status of sainthood for women are unique to Morocco. Women tend to acquire their sainthood by virtue of their own good deeds and special qualities, rather than for being scholars and sages. Solica became venerated as a symbol of inspiration and sanctity for the Jews of Morocco.

Inside Jewish Morocco

She was originally buried in the family plot of Rabbi Eliayu Hassarfati in the ancient Jewish cemetery just outside the gates of the Mellah, called a gisa. When that cemetery was decommissioned in , the remains were moved to a new cemetery that had grown out of the burial site for the pogrom victims of , near the entrance to the Mellah, and opposite the Royal Palace. The remains of Rabbi Eliyahu and of Solica Hachuel were transferred with pomp and ceremony by the Jews of Fez to the current Jewish cemetery. Legend also has it that when her grave was to be exhumed and moved to the other cemetery, the men doing it became paralyzed and they thought they heard Solica telling them that only women can move her body so they had to get the women to do it.

They rest together under a modest mausoleum in the middle of the Jewish cemetery of Fez. Most female saints do not have shrines. Her tomb resides in the center of the Jewish cemetery of Fez in a small domed shrine. It overlooks a green and scenic hilly terrain. Her tombstone has inscriptions in both Hebrew and French.