Morocco will soon add Jewish history and culture to its school curriculum nationwide, the first Muslim country to do so, AFP reported.
The decision “has the impact of a tsunami,” said Serge Berdugo, secretary-general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco, told AFP. “It is a first in the Arab world.”
The decision to add Jewish history and culture to the school curriculum was quietly made before the peace deal with Israel was announced. The new lessons, to begin next term for children aged 11 and above, are part of an ongoing revision of Morocco’s school curriculum since 2014.
The new program aims to “highlight Morocco’s diverse identity”, according to Fouad Chafiqi, head of academic programs at the ministry.
The Jewish community in Morocco dates back thousands of years, following the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdash. The population greatly increased after 1492 when the Jews of Spain were expelled. There were about 250,000 Jews prior to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, when most Jews left. Currently, the community numbers less than 3,000 Jews, the majority of whom live in Casablanca.
Two US-based Jewish associations — the American Sephardi Federation (ASF) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (COP) — said they “worked closely with the Kingdom of Morocco and the Moroccan Jewish community” on the new lessons.
“Ensuring Moroccan students learn about the totality of their proud history of tolerance, including Morocco’s philo-Semitism, is an inoculation against extremism,” leaders of the two organizations stated last month.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)