I have traveled to over 60 countries and the more I travel the more I want to travel. So I always have a top 10 list of destinations. For this trip, the toss up was Vietnam vs. Morocco. It took some convincing to get Gavin to agree as he was concerned about traveling to an Arab country. We have been to Jordan and Egypt, plus we spent Pesach 2006 in Dubai. So I was not going to let him win.
One of our JICNY participants is from Casablanca. She attended a Shabbat dinner last December and sat next to a guy from Morocco. They quickly became acquainted and married this summer. (I love how JICNY had a hand in matching two Jews from a small community).
Johanna insisted that we spend Shabbat with her parents in Casablanca. We loved the idea of spending Shabbat with a local family. However, we were also concerned that her parents only speak French, Arabic and Hebrew. We only speak English, Afrikaans and Zulu.
As the car pulled up in front of the house, her mom welcomed us with “Bruchim Habayim” – welcome. And the ice was broken. She then became the stereotypical Jewish mom, serving us so much food I literally nearly popped.
When I explained in broken Hebrew that I have eaten like a King she retorted with the universal Jewish Mom phrase, “But you hardly ate anything”.
Her dad drove us all over on Friday, pointing out the rich Jewish history of the city. It’s only through the eyes of a local that we could have had such an emotional Jewish experience. We went to the old Jewish quarter and cemetery. We lit candles at graves of tzaddikim and explored the Jewish museum which details 500 years of Jewish life in Morocco.
I am now on a first-class train cabin on the way to Marrakesh. People are so helpful and friendly and, boy, did we need the help getting my bag up stairs and onto the train rack! We have two big bags–one with clothes and one with food –tuna, crackers and peanut butter, along with instant noodles, couscous, cereal and, of course, chocolate.
We are planning to travel to the seaside to a medieval town, and then spend two days in the mountains and Shabbat in Marrakesh. I am guessing I will have more stories to share.
Metroimmas, I would love to hear about your exotic travels
Originally published: November 29, 2010