Moroccan Jews gather for pilgrimage to newly renovated Al Jadida cemetery

Restoration project part of initiative launched by King Mohammed VI to repair Jewish burial sites nationwide

A picture taken on October 13, 2017 shows a view of a street in the "Mellah" Jewish quarter of the Medina in Marrakesh. (AFP PHOTO / FADEL SENNA)
Illustrative: A view of a street in the "Mellah" Jewish quarter of the Medina in Marrakesh, Morocco, October 13, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / FADEL SENNA)

JTA — Moroccan officials and Jewish community leaders celebrated the renovation of a Jewish cemetery in the coastal city of Al Jadida.

About 200 people gathered earlier this month at the newly restored Jewish cemetery of the city, which is situated about 80 miles southwest of the capital Rabat.

The Jewish participants used the occasion to complete a pilgrimage to the grave of the 19th-century kabbalah expert Rabbi Ihya Haïm Assouline, who is buried there, the Moroccan news site Liberation reported.

The entire surface of the large cemetery was paved to prevent the growth of weeds that, before the renovation, had grown wild amid the tombstones of Al Jadida, which does not have a functioning Jewish community. The walls and some tombstones were washed and given a fresh coat of paint and the entrance gate was replaced.

In 2010, Moroccan king Mohammed VI announced the launch of a project to restore at least 167 Jewish burial sites throughout his country.

Morocco used to have about 250,000 Jews. The community now numbers about 3,000.

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