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A city in western Morocco, situated on the Atlantic Ocean coast, about 125 kilometers north of Agadir. It was formerly known as Mogador  (Arabic: 'as-sawîra)

Photos of town: [November 2002]

Town map: [November 2002]

Essaouira was founded in 1765. The oldest tombs date from 1776. These tombs are interesting. Contrary to Jewish tradition and Mosaic Law, they are sculptured with very marked human forms. These anthropomorphic tombstones sometimes bear epigraphic inscriptions and sometimes none. These monolithic tombstones are carved out of marine sandstone. Their size in length varies between a width of 1.50 meter and 2.00 m, 0.50 m and a height of 0.30 m. This kind of tombstone can be found in other Moroccan towns located mainly on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. In some towns such as Xauen (Tetouan) certain tombs have been dated to the 16th century. In Spain, this kind of tombstones has been found in Murcia and also in the Barcelona Montjuif Cemetery. One of the tombs dated from the 12th century. Source: Liliane Benisty [no functioning email address-January 2002]

"Essaouira's mellah covers over 10 percent of the town, but Jews constituted almost 40 percent of the population in the late 1880's. Jewish stars on the doors to the mellah show the degree to which Jews were accepted in Essaouira, to the point that some of the richer Jews did not even live in the mellah. Commemorative plaques indicate the buildings in which synagogues were located. Former inhabitants of Essaouira, most of them Jewish, formed a committee to rehabilitate the town. An important member of the committee is King Hassan II's Economic Advisor, Andre Azoulay. The Jewish cemetery, just outside the city gates, is extremely well kept. The hiloula of Chaim Pinto is held in September." Source [February 2002]

"[A}n eighteenth-century town characterized by white and blue houses and an easy style. It is the ideal place to relax and to stroll among its wood workshops and art galleries, boat builders and sardine fishermen, ... Among the souks worth visiting are the Marche d'Epices (spice market) and Souk des Bijoutiers (jeweler's market), which was once dominated by Essaouira's Jewish community. Source: [November 2002]

" My first book was concerned with urban society in Essaouira, Morocco's principal seaport in the 19th century, and I continue to work on the history of the Jewish community of Essaouira in an effort to study the transformation of Moroccan Jewry in the 19th and 20th centuries." Source: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Teller Family Chair in Jewish History, U of Ca-Irvine:

I manage Essaouira (Mogador), Morocco for the High Atlas Foundation. High Atlas Foundation and its partners initiated a one-year preservation and maintenance program for the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish cemeteries in Essaouira, which stand as present-day reminders of the multicultural past of this small city and Morocco at-large, where people of different faiths shared a town, a life, work, a culture, and language. n order to perpetuate the memory and to re-kindle the spirit of this rich past, the High Atlas Foundation involved local associations, community leaders, students and teachers in the project over the course of one year. The preservation of these sacred sites include:

  • - Engaging youth groups to discuss their vitally important historical past,
  • - Sustainable plantings and maintenance in all 3 cemeteries to: (1) avoid erosion, (2)  make the sites more inviting to families and visitors, and (3) encourage interest and  respect from passersby and visitors,
  • - Skills training for the current guardians,
  • - Actions to limit cemetery deterioration, and
  • - Preservation of writing upon graves and its cataloging.
  • We worked with Mr Asher Knafo on the deciphering and cataloging of epitaphs in the new Jewish cemetery. Further information about the project and Asher's work is available on our website and Flickr page: The High Atlas Foundation is actively seeking other opportunities for inter-cultural preservation and development activities. We already work with the Marrakech Jewish community on a tree nursery on a sacred Jewish site near Marrakech at Akraich.Source: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Project and Development Manager. La Fondation du Haut Atlas | 4 Rue Qadi Ayaad | Marrakech, MOROCCO  | Tel  +212 (0) 5 24 42 08 21 | Mobile +212 (0) 66 21 766 29 | Fax +212 (0) 5 24 430 002. High Atlas Foundation | 332 Bleecker Street, #K110 | New York, NY 10014 USA | Tel (646) 688-2946 | Fax (646) 786-4780 [October 2013]

Cemetery of Mogador (Cemetery of Essaouira):

Online burial database compiled by Alexandre Levy of Switzerland. Person to contact about grave locations: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Geneva, Switerzland, . Cemetery hours are 8am to 6pm except Shabbat. No burial cards; no biographical data.

UPDATE: (survey October 2002): Current town population is 70,000 with fewer than 25 Jews. The Jewish community dates from around 1700. The unlandmarked cemetery was established around 1700, maybe before. The Jewish community of 17,000 people and 10,000 muslims in 1850, had the special status of "négociants du roi". For more information please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Caretaker is a 20 year-old Muslim, just present to open and close the doors. He has the key. Rabbi Haim Pinto is buried there. The last burial in the inactive Sephardic cemetery was 1989. The suburban, land, surrounded by water, is separate but near other cemeteries. The cemetery is reached by turning directly off a public road. Access to the cemetery is open to all via a continuous masonry wall and a locking gate. Current size of cemetery (specify measurement unit): New cemetery is about 156 meters by 101 meters; and Old cemetery is about 177 meters by 83 meters. No special sections. The oldest known gravestone dates from 1776. A burial database is under construction. About 4,000 to 5,0000 gravestones are in cemetery, about 500 in the old cemetery and about 3,500 for the new cemetery. The marble, granite, and sandstone memorial markers are rough stones or boulders, flat, shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, and mausoleums. Some have traces of painting on their surfaces. Inscriptions are in Hebrew and French. The local Jewish community owns the site. The sea is adjacent to the cemetery. Private Jewish visitors and families visit occasionally. The never vandalized cemetery has no maintenance but has occasional clearing or cleaning by individuals. The "caretaker" is paid by the government. Structures within the limits of the cemetery, include a cemetery office and a caretaker's residence. The vegetation overgrowth in the cemetery is not a problem because vegetation protects stones from erosion. Water drainage at the cemetery is good all year. Full survey effected in 2002, including 4'000 pictures, each stone has been labeled and information is currently updated in a database. More information will be available at Alexandre Lévy's upcoming website - - by the end of the year November [2003]. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Geneva, Switzerland completed this survey in October 2002. [November 2002]


Last Updated on Monday, 21 October 2013 20:01
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