Judeo-Moroccan Traditions and the Age of European Expansionism in North Africa
This chapter traces the ways in which Jews in sixteenth-century Fez perceived the “Battle of al-Qsar al-Kabir,” which took place in Morocco in the summer of 1578. These Fassi Jews, many of whom were familiar with the traumatic experiences of the expulsion from the Iberian peninsula only a few generations earlier, had historicized, ritualized, vernacularized, and ultimately “scripturalized” this battle. Similarly, another European assault, the French naval attack on the coastal towns of Tangier and Mogador in 1844, was registered in a local Hebrew scroll. Much as with the event of 1578, and in what can be seen now as a pattern of communal behavior, the Jewish community of Tangier established a special memorial day that was given the Spanish name “Purim of the Bombs” (Purim de las Bombas). The chapter examines these two literary historical episodes through three aspects—the Jewish, the Moroccan, and the historical—as well as the interplay between them.