Guide for Moroccan Jewish heritage

By Stephen Addison
This item appears on page 36 of the December 2018 issue.

Abdellah (center front, in hat and vest) in Meknes' Sunday market. Photo by Stephen Addison

If you are planning to visit Morocco and are interested in visiting synagogues, cemeteries and other sites important to the history and heritage of Judaism there, consider choosing Abdellah El Harras (phone +212 666 946 043, elharrasabdellah@yahoo.fr) as your guide*.

In May 2018, my wife, Paula Owens, and I took a customized tour of Morocco arranged through Marrakesh Voyage (Livingston Manor, NY; 212/925-6151,

marrakesh-voyage.com), and Abdellah was assigned to be our guide. (For both of us, the price of our private tour was $5,500, which also included nine nights' lodging, an overnight camel trek in the Sahara, breakfasts, most dinners, admission fees, transportation and airport transfers.)

An English-speaking, licensed Moroccan tour guide with extensive knowledge of the history of Jews in Morocco, Abdellah was with us for the entire 10 days of our visit. He often surprised and impressed me with his knowledge and passion. He was recognized and welcomed at each synagogue we visited.

I am reasonably well versed in the history of that part of the world — in particular, the aftermath of the Reconquista on the Iberian Peninsula (full disclosure: neither of us is Jewish) — but Abdellah clearly had more extensive knowledge of both the local Jewish history and the practice of Judaism. I never expected to be schooled on these subjects by a devout Muslim!

STEPHEN ADDISON
Charlotte, NC

*For his services as a guide, for two people, Abdellah El Harras charges $75 for a half day (plus vehicle, add $40) or $110 for a full day (plus vehicle, add $75).