17-24 March 2019

Visiting Fez, Volubilis, Meknes, Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakesh and the Ourika Valley

So popular is this tour that JR is running it for the third time. Again, we will explore the fascinating past of the Jewish community, with its varied roots – Berber and Spanish – and its French affiliations. We will learn about its religion, culture and customs and enjoy an unforgettable Purim celebration with the Casablanca community. We will also visit other exceptional sites of beauty and historic interest. We will stay in excellent hotels, including a traditional riad. All the photos below were taken by participants in previous JR tours.
While we understand security concerns, our many previous tours to Morocco have convinced us that the discreet, yet strong, security provided for all tourist groups, is second to none. There is nowhere you will be safer.

Rafi is a Moroccan Jewish tour guide specialising in the 2,000-year history of Morocco's Jews. After and a youth spent in England and some years in Israel, Rafi returned to live in Morocco. He has been at the forefront of an effort to preserve Morocco's Jewish heritage and keep the memory of former communities alive. You will see the results of his relentless efforts on the trip through Jewish sites around the country and the numerous artefacts he discovered displayed in the Casablanca Jewish museum he helped to create. A captivating speaker, he enthrals his listeners with remarkable stories and hilarious anecdotes. He is much loved in the Jewish and wider community and opens doors everywhere. He is co-author of Jews Under Muslim Skies, 2000 years of Jewish Life in Morocco, a copy of which he presented to King Mohammed VI.
The pictures below were all taken on JR trips.

Day 1: Sunday 17 March
We take Ryanair Flight FR2772 from Stansted at 19.00, to arrive at 22.20pm. We are met at FES airport by Rafi and taken to the Hotel to check into Hotel Palais Medina.for a late snack.

Day 2: Monday 18 March
We spend the day in Fez visiting the extraordinary Jewish cemetery in the Mellah (above) and two shuls, one of which was restored by Rafi. Then we are taken by coach to the medina and walk its streets, so narrow and steep that mules are the only means of transport. We see an exquisite madrassa and the oldest continually operating university in the world. We lunch in a beautiful residence and visit the famous tanneries as well as other artisan workshops.
Evening: We visit the beautiful Bensadoun synagogue before dining again at the nearby Maimonides Club.

Day 3: Tuesday 19 March
Leave hotel 8.30am. We drive to the Imperial city MEKNES. Here we visit the Mellah, which once contained 11 Synagogues, and one of the synagogues which once housed a Talmud Torah, meeting one of the last Jews of Meknes who still prays there. Then to the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail with its famous royal stables and granary, once home to 15,000 Arabian horses. We also visit the fabulous spice market and there will be free time to stroll around the city square and eat our packed lunch.
Then we drive to VOLUBILIS a remarkably well preserved Roman city and Unesco site (below). We go from there to the Moroccan capital RABAT where we check in at the beautiful Sofitel Jardin Roses Hotel. In the evening we hope to again have dinner with Elmehdi Boudra, Laziza Dalil and other members of the Mimouna Association. These are young engaging Moroccans who celebrate their country’s Jewish heritage. They impressed and charmed those on our most recent previous tour.

Day 4: Wednesday 20 March
Leave Hotel 8.30am We view the shul in the mellah quarter of the Rabat Medina in what was once a Portuguese port and then to the Kasbah where we admire the views the ramparts and stroll through the Andalusian gardens with an optional visit to the Museum of Moroccan Arts, housed in a fine royal residence. We continue to visit the 12th century Hassan Tower, and the columns erected to mark the site of a monumental mosque destroyed by an 18th century earthquake, and the nearby modern lavish King Mohammed V Mausoleum. After a light lunch we take our coach to CASABLANCA.
Here we walk through the street of six shuls (where Rafi gives an entertaining account of the five he does not go to!), visit the kosher bakery where we have a chance to sample the local Purim fare, and then visit impressive Beth el Synagogue and one of the many Jewish clubs. We check in at Le Casablanca hotel. At 5pm we go to a Synagogue on the Corniche for a community Purim Party – where one wonderful dish follows another – and we join the community in dancing and enjoy the entertainment provided by their younger members.

Day 5 Thursday 21 March

We visit the Jewish Museum in Casablanca, where Rafi, who found much of its contents on his research tours throughout Morocco, is a passionate guide to its engaging display of the rich Jewish life which existed throughout the country.
Then a drive through the French colonial style heart of Casablanca and on to the well-heeled southern coastal area where beautiful villas among the palm trees are the homes of the better off of Casablanca’s inhabitants and hold stories of international diplomacy and interesting characters among of its Jewish residents.
After lunch, we begin our three-hour coach journey to Marrakesh.
We arrive in Marrakesh time to see the sunset at the Koutoubia Mosque from the nearby gardens, and visit Jmaa El Fna, the fabled central square of Marrakesh when evening falls and it is at its liveliest, with story-tellers, snake-charmers, artists and musicians, entertaining the locals. At around 7pm we leave for our riad, the lovely Ksar Anika, which is the heart of the old Jewish quarter. We dine at Ksar Anika.

Day 6 Friday 22 March
We walk to the beautifully restored synagogue just a few minutes from our riad, where Rafi tells us about its history. He then takes us to the nearby medina where he introduces us to the remaining Jewish traders, including a kosher butcher. Then, just a short walk away is the Bahai Palace, where we enjoy the elaborate architecture and the story of its Iranian origins.
After lunch at Ksar Anika, we take our coach to the Yves St Laurent Majorelle Garden, where there is an excellent Berber museum, now joined by a fashion museum. This is a tranquil oasis in the city hubbub and very popular with our groups.
We return in time to get ready for our Shabbat dinner at the Haliwa family home just a short walk from our riad. You will be amazed at the quality of Moroccan Jewish home cooking.

Day 7 Saturday 23 March
FREE DAY though you might like to join the service at the synagogue near Ksar Anika. In the afternoon you can relax on the riad roof terrace or take a swim in the courtyard pool. Or you might like to visit the famed Photography Museum or have a final shopping expedition.
Sunday 24 March A day trip to the Ourika Valley to see the waterfalls and the scenery. We visit the tomb of Rabbi Shlomo ben Hensh, now a pilgrimage site, and spend time in a typical village where our guide Rafi introduces us the to the Berber family he lived with for some time while doing research into Jewish life in the valley, who kindly allow us to look round their home (below).

We return to Marrakech in good time to get the 19.10 BA 2667 flight to Heathrow (arriving 22.45)
Further nights at Ksar Anika can be arranged if you wish to stay on.

The cost of the above, including hotels and breakfast and all meals specified above, the services of Rafi Elmaleh and local guides and museum fees and most meals is £1,895 per person sharing plus a single supplement £795. The trip will be confirmed when 10 are signed up. The tour maximum is 20.
Excludes Flights and Insurance
If you are interested in joining this trip please booking form attached with deposit per person of £300 required
This trip is for Jewish Renaissance subscribers only and annual membership fees are £30