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Jewish heritage tours of Morocco typically cycle through Casablanca, Tangiers, Fez, and Marrakesh. But the Judeo-Moroccan heartland lies south of these metropolitan centers, in the towns and villages of the Atlas mountains and Sahara desert. Here, Jewish life punctuated the landscape, legendary rabbis helped sustain rural communities, and a distinctive Judeo-Amazigh (Berber) culture developed over the course of two millennia.

Diarna Insights No. 3: Son of the Snake

Perched on the edge of a mountain above a river valley sits the 500 year-old tomb of an emissary from the land of Israel who died while on a fundraising trip in southern Morocco. The Rabbi Shlomo (Solomon) has been given the moniker “Ben Lhens” (“Son of the Snake”) and remains one of the most revered Jewish “saints” in Morocco, including by Muslims, who call him “Mul Asguine.” What has made his shrine all the more remarkable has been the living man who has resided there for over 30 years: Hananiyah Alfassi. The the last Jew in the Ourika Valley, Hannaniyah’s passing marks the end of an era in Judeo-Moroccan saint veneration.