Fes el-Jdid and the Mellah meets Fes el-Bali
Dec 16, 2007
Dec 28, 2007
Fes is broken up into three parts: the ville nouvelle (the new part that's quite commercial), "new fes" Fes El-Jdid, which is where the two synagogues and jewish cemetery are, and then the medina or old fes or fes el-bali and that's where i'm staying. old fes is stuck in the 6th century in every way-organization, camel heads on the streets for sale, prayer on the hour every hour with a flood warning kind of megaphone that is the official "call to prayer"... but it's amazing. the windy streets with no names remind me of venice, but fes seems to have a lot more character. like it is welcoming and very accomodating for tourists but still has the charm as if they've never seen a single tourist ever. got a tour of the synagogue by Rafael Danan, the president of the Fes community and just the man I was looking for! *. He showed me the special bath where women are cleansed before their marriage which was in the basement of the synagogue and then the special section where women, men, and the rabbi sat for the service. He seemed very happy that I was learning Hebrew and invited me to stay for the Shabat service which was conveniently in a ½ hour. It was very very different than my Schenectady and Rabat experience. The Rabbi spoke Judeo-Arabic, not Hebrew, and we had to stand the whole time. I sat in the pews above the main floor for women and while people were friendly and smiled they did not seem very interested in talking. In fact, they did not seem happy to be there at all, it seemed more obligatory rather than somewhere they wanted to be. There were 8 women, besides me, and about 12 men, which the rabbi said was pretty normal. Their congregation was 30 people total but he never saw them at one time.