This year, AARC will be celebrating Mimouna on Saturday April 7, 5:30-7:30pm at the JCC. We’ll have lots of food, music, and a short ‘seder’ to learn about the symbols and traditions of Mimouna. We will also begin a conversation about things our congregation can do to form relationships with other faith communities in the coming year.
Mimouna, the traditional Moroccan Jewish celebration held the day after Passover, marks the start of spring and the return to eating chametz, i.e., leavened bread and bread by-products, which are forbidden throughout Passover. In centuries past, Muslim neighbors would bring gifts of flour, honey, milk, butter and green beans to their Jewish neighbors to help them prepare delicious, chametz-rich recipes. More recently, Moroccan Jews brought the holiday to Israel where it is now widely celebrated with picnics and visiting with friends and neighbors. Recently, an organization of Moroccan Muslim students was founded which preserves and promotes the history of Morocco’s ancient Jewish community and seeks to educate about Jewish culture to encourage harmony between Jews and Muslims.
“Unlike Passover, which is charged with religious meaning, this is a festival devoted to the celebration of community, friendship, togetherness and hospitality. Mimouna is celebrated by throwing one’s home open to friends, neighbors and even strangers, with public parties, and by sharing – a large portion of that sharing involving food. Mimouna is thus clearly all about encouraging peace, kindness and human warmth. It also centers around making music, singing and dancing,” explains an article in Haaretz which includes a recipe for the traditional crepe, mofleta.
The piyyut (ligurgical poetry) below, “Atem Yotzei Maarav ,”composed by Rabbi David Bouzaglo (1903-1975), to commemorate the Mimouna holiday tells–in Hebrew with some Judeo-Arabic interspersed–the various aspects of the holiday including the foods eaten, the friendly atmosphere, and the significance of the holiday. It tells a story of strife and its resolution, and in conclusion calls for the abandonment of bitterness between Muslims and Jews.
Atem Yotzei Maarav
A Moroccan Jewish Piyyut:
You, who come from the Maghreb, from Morocco, men of faith –
praise G-d in assembly, this day of the Mimouna.
Yesterday the Red Sea opened its gaping mouth before Pharaoh,
it moved over all their wagons and swallowed them.
Israel, the flock, his servants crossed through passages,
as the waves of the sea were piled up by the hand of Moses, the faithful father.
The wealth of their enemies and tormentors Israel collected,
between the waves of the sea, they received it as a gift.
On every doorstep, all congratulated each other:
“Be blessed, friend, all the months of the year.”
And in Morocco, for many generations, the Hebrews say,
in blessing their friends, “good luck, brother, good fortune!”
The strangers, their waters were spilled on them;
the fear of G-d, in Heaven poured down on them.
Loads and loads of wealth and grains
were delivered from all comers of the world to the people G-d has chosen.
And it is the way of the sons of Arabia, in Morocco,
each according to his means brings the Jews an offering of value.
Yeast, honey and flour, the milk of a healthy cow,
fish, mint, and butter with wild flowers and flowers from the garden.
This night, Hebrews and Arabs are all seated together –
they rejoice with musical instruments and singing.
The Hebrew woman wears the clothes of an Arab,
the man wears an Arab vest, and the scent of incense and perfume.
One can no longer distinguish between a Hebrew and his Arab brother,
or if they are city dwellers or villagers: the good spirit overtakes them all.
The borders between Israel and the nations are blurred
If it wasn’t for the bloodthirsty who run the states.
It is these evil kings who deliver their people to catastrophe –
They are concerned only with their thrones, not the soul who suffers.
Abandon for all time conflict and bitterness!
Stop the bitter cries! Stop in the name of peace and freedom!
(Translation – Ruben Namdar and Joshua Levitt)