In Pictures

Magical Jewish Morocco: A report from Eveleen Habib, one of JR’s Purim tour members

JR Tour - Morocco - Cemetery - Joan 2 Twenty-six tired yet exhilarated travellers sat down together for supper in a Riad in Marrakech – it was the last night of a wonderful trip and they all wanted to spend that evening together, despite the opportunity to sample the night life in this north African town. How well our group, mainly strangers, had grown to like one another and enjoy the times we spent discussing the day’s activities.

The trip focussed on the Jewish Morocco that still remains – the majority of the community having left in 1948 and 1967. Our guide, Rafi El Maleh, was an important part of this well-organised trip. We learned so much about the history, politics and current situation of both the Jewish and Arab population. There seemed to be nothing he did not know. We laughed at the number of palaces owned by the king (whom Rafi had met more than once in the course of his work on Jewish heritage) and we were moved by so many of his stories about individuals he knew and helped. We admired the research, hard work and passion he had devoted to collecting and conserving Jewish artefacts and whole synagogues, throughout the country of his birth.

There was never a dull moment and we drank in every bit of information that he gave us, it might have been about the extraordinary cemetery we visited in the Fes Mellah (pictured above), or one of the many synagogues that we visited. There were once 11 in the Mellah of Meknes and we met one of the last Jews who still prays in this Imperial City. We visited the royal stables and granary, once home to 15,000 Arabian horses, built by Moulay Ismail, who lived in magnificence but subjected his city to terror. We walked, climbed, and sometimes struggled with, the cobbled narrow streets and the traffic, especially in Marrakech where Rafi literally stopped the traffic for us to cross the roads. In Volubilis the hardier individuals climbed in the sun up a steep road to see the remarkably well-preserved Roman city whilst the others enjoyed mint tea in the small café below.

JR Tour - Morocco - Volubilis arch JL Volubilis arch

The first two evenings we ate in the attractive Jewish Maimonide club in Fes and enjoyed couscous with meat, vegetables, chicken and an array of the popular and delicious cooked salads in small dishes set out in front of us.  The food in general was lavish and good; when not eating kosher food, we were always able to eat fish and vegetarian food so everyone’s needs were met.

JR Tour - Morocco - KT.Dinner Fez, March 1st

One special experience was meeting four young Moroccan Muslims, founders  of the Mimouna Association, set up to tell their contemporaries about the Jewish heritage of their country that few knew anything about. We ate together at a restaurant on the coast in Rabat and had the opportunity of conversing with them individually. They spoke about their initiatives; organising Hebrew lessons and days of Jewish culture; running the first Holocaust Conference in the Arab world and paying a group visit to Israel. We were impressed by their enthusiasm and eloquence. It seemed as if they are set to be among their country’s elite. It will be a great boost to interfaith relations if they achieve this.

JR Tour - Morocco - Laziza table With Laziza Dalil of The Mimouna Society

We visited so many places, each one a treat – the lavish mausoleum built to honour King Mohammed V in Rabat; its Kasbah where we had Moroccan tea and almond cookies;  Casablanca’s Jewish Museum with its rich display of Moroccan Jewish artefacts, and its Jewish quarter with kosher bakers, the street of seven shuls and the beautiful Beth el Synagogue.

JR Tour - Morocco - Rafi and Haman's eye - Malcolm Rafi with Haman's eye bread

And Purim: celebrated differently but enjoyably. Not as noisy in synagogue as I am used to, but the same notes and words read out to remind us of the near-destruction of the Jewish people – appropriate in an Arab country, albeit one currently well-disposed to its small Jewish population. The group joined the local community in unending dinner and entertainment. We threw ourselves into the atmosphere of the occasion – fascinated by the bread with hard boiled eggs, representing Haman’s eyes, baked inside (pictured above).

JR Tour - Morocco - Purim table - Joan Purim party

And then the final days in Marrakech where we stayed in the Ksar Anika Riad in the aptly named Rue des Juifs, an oasis of quiet and beauty with a pool in the courtyard and hanging plants. We walked to see the Bahai Palace and in the medina visited a herbalist with his potions, spices and cures for everything. Then to prepare for Shabbat and a wonderful long table set out as if for a wedding with delicious food cooked by Madame Ohayon, wife of Isaac Ohayon who had restored, and was cantor for, the Mellah synagogue some of us visited the next morning.  After a Moroccan cholent lunch we visited the Majorelle Gardens, once owned by Yves St Laurent and then gifted to the town for the benefit of those who love quiet, gardens and water – truly lovely.

JR Tour - Morocco - Last lunch at Ksar Anika - JL Last lunch at Ksar Anika

And there was much else in this wonderful trip, well-planned, delightful company, all our needs considered. I cannot wait to book another tour with Jewish Renaissance.

By Eveleen Habib

Visit the JR website to see the Magical Jewish Morocco 2016 tour itinerary.

Violinist Irmina Trynkos dazzles at the second JR salon

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew A packed crowd of around 60 people attended the second JR salon event this week at Lauderdale House in Highgate. They were there to hear the virtuoso talents of violinist Irmina Trynkos, as well as the sparkling sounds of pianist Marco Fatichenti. And they weren’t disappointed.

Dressed in a jewelled, emerald green evening gown, Irmina treated the audience to a programme full of energy and passion. Irmina opened proceedings with the sweeping Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Minor No.3 Op.108, by Johannes Brahms, followed by a piece by the relatively unknown Polish-German Jewish composer Ignatz Waghalter – his Sonata for Violin and Piano in F Minor Op.5.

Ernest Bloch’s Baal Shem Nigun and George Gershwin’s sprightly Prelude No.1 followed, as well as the theme by John Williams from Shindler’s List, which Irmina played in melancholy and moving style. The concert ended with the quirky gypsy sounds of Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane, played with terrific speed and verve by both violinist and pianist.

The music was interspersed with some background to the composers provided by the warm and engaging broadcaster Rodney Greenberg, who was the presenter for the evening. He and Irmina took time to discuss Waghalter's farewell – and return – to Germany, his fall from the public consciousness and how he made the wrong move of staying in New York rather than LA, as he might have better developed his career in Hollywood. She has taken on the task of reviving his little known works, along with other ‘forgotten’ composers.

The music was followed by drinks and canapés. The elegant, yet intimate, surrounds of Lauderdale House provided the perfect backdrop for the event and we hope to continue our salon series soon.

To find out more about Irmina Trynkos, read our article about her.

By Rebecca Taylor

Photos © Charlotte Mayhew

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew

JR Salon, 10/03/14 © Charlotte Mayhew

Visit facebook.com/JewishRenaissance for more photos.

In pictures: A sneak peak at London Jewish Museum’s wedding retrospective For Richer For Poorer

For Richer For Poorer exhib, Jewish Museum, Press 2015 The London Jewish Museum's new exhibition is glorious and beautifully put together. For Richer For Poorer delicately weaves artefacts and archives from the museum's collections with delightful personal material donated or lent by members of the public to tell the story of Jewish marriage throughout the years. Including Jewish immigration and life, with its aspirations and tribulations, its joys and challenges over the years and even centuries. The dresses are gorgeous, the menus mouth-watering – and challenging in the huge number of courses on offer – and the photographs and personally written experiences extraordinarily moving. Anyone who's partial to shedding a tear at weddings should take a packet of tissues!

Also don't miss the free crowd-sourced exhibition Love. The range of everyday objects, historic artefacts and artworks on display are by turns beautiful, surprising and touching – and by no means all Jewish. They include a hand-me-down child's puzzle, a glass shattered under the chuppa (wedding canopy) preserved in blue perspex, and a pin combining the Indian and Scottish flags that symbolises a multicultural union.

By Judi Herman

For Richer For Poorer: Weddings Unveiled runs until 31 May and Your Jewish Museum: Love runs until 19 April. Jewish Museum, 129-131 Albert Street, NW1 7NB; 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk

If you can't make it down to the museum, take an audio tour of the exhibition with Judi and Jewish Museum curator Elizabeth Selby.

For Richer For Poorer exhib, Jewish Museum, Press 2015

For Richer For Poorer exhib, Jewish Museum, Press 2015

For Richer For Poorer exhib, Jewish Museum, Press 2015

For Richer For Poorer exhib, Jewish Museum, Press 2015

For Richer For Poorer exhib, Jewish Museum, Press 2015

For Richer For Poorer exhib, Jewish Museum, Press 2015

For Richer For Poorer exhib, Jewish Museum, Press 2015

 

In pictures: How the world is marking Holocaust Memorial Day and 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Auschwitz survivors paying their respects in Poland © Getty Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, which this year also marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. We commemorate with a look at how the world is memorialising the Holocaust.

Austrian Embassy London

brighton and sussex jsoc

hmd ed miliband

HMD Anish Kapoor candle © Jillian Edelstein

HMD Simon Shaw_Bournemouth

HMD foreign commonwealth office

redbridge jcc

How are you spending HMD? Let us know via Twitter (@JewishRen) or Facebook.com/JewishRenaissance.