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Cemetery at Bou Denib, Morocco

Morocco

Summary

The town of Bou Denib (alternate spellings: Boudenib, بوذنيب) is located in southeastern Morocco in the central part of the Guir Valley, near a palm grove east of the Tafilalet, not far from the Algerian border, on the road that links Errachidia (formerly Ksar Souk) to Colombe Béchar in southern Algeria. The Jews of this isolated, border town have long since left. But due primarily to the efforts of one native family, the community’s cemetery has recently been restored.

Description

Jews of Boudenib: Although its origins are unknown, a Jewish settlement seems to have existed in Boudenib at least as early the seventeenth century. Along with Bou Anan, Bou ‘Arfa, Toulal, Talessint, and Gourrama (the latter dating only from the twentieth century), Boudenib represented the easternmost area of Jewish settlement in Tafilalet, whose main community was Sijilmasa until the fifteenth century. In the twentieth century, the Boudenib community consisted of two hundred families. The presence of a French garrison in the area was a stimulus to local commerce. The Jews of Boudenib, largely engaged in crafts and petty trade, benefited from this, expanding into supplying foodstuffs and other commodities to the troops. A point of pride for many of the Jews of Boudenib was the buriel of the holy rabbi Abba Abuḥaṣera, grandson of the holy rabbi Jacob Abuḥaṣera (1807–1880) in the Boudenib cemetery. Like many other nearby Jewish communities, the Boudenib community emigrated gradually to Israel in the years 1962 to 1966.

French Occupation: In 1908, the French began their occupation of Boudenib, but local forces resisted for twenty years. In 1940, the Vichy government set up an internment camp where hundreds of Algerian Jewish and Muslim prisoners were interned under conditions befitting a concentration camp and over the next two years forced to build the Trans-Saharan Railway. 

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