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Rabbi Shmuel Abu Hatzeira is the grandson of the legendary Moroccan rabbi known as the Abir Yaakov and the first cousin of the Moroccan-Israeli iconic rabbi the Baba Sali. His tomb in the Erfoud cemetery was once exposed to the elements, covered only by a small roof with no walls. In recent years, a formal complex has been built around his grave, including a large function hall where guests can celebrate his annual hiloula (pilgrimage).
Shrine: The cemetery contains several hundred other graves, most arrayed in a series of rows. Some of the graves have stones placed on top of them, the result of a traditional Jewish custom where relatives place a few pebbles atop grave stones as a kind of memorial. A Muslim guardian lives on the premises with his family, including a young daughter who often wanders among the tombs. He is familiar with the history of the Abu Hatzeira clan and often greets visitors from around the world who come on pilgrimages to the shrine.
Tomb of Shmuel Abu Hatzeira in Erfoud, Morocco
Community: In 1954, about one-third of the inhabitants of the new section of Erfoud were Jews. On Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, all shops were closed – including those owned by non-Jews – because there was no one to trade with. Yaakov Benhamou was then the head of the local community, and Mukhluf Krispin was the young head of the local Talmud Torah Jewish day school. The Baba Sali had a grand, new synagogue in town that was known as “The Rav’’s Synagogue.” There were Jewish quarters, or mellahs, in many of the surrounding villages, including Ksar Zrigat and Ma’adid to the north; Tijimi and Joarf to the west; and Sifa and El-Glagla to the south (though in 1954 only the last three villages still had Jewish inhabitants).