by Yakir, DTA Project Director
Mimouna is an old Jewish-Moroccan tradition. In the Jewish tradition, during Passover, the Jewish community is not allowed to eat Chametz, any kind of bread. On the first night after Passover, in Morocco, the Muslim community would come to the Jewish homes, bringing the first bread and sweets to the Jews and they would celebrate together. The origin of the name Mimouna is mysterious – some think it is connected to the word Emuna – to believe. Others think it comes from the Arabic word Maymun – luck.
Today in Israel the Moroccan Jewish community still celebrate this holiday, but today they celebrate it alone, with no connection or relationship with the Muslim community. When I speak with the young generation of Moroccan Jews, none of them told me about the role that interfaith dialogue with the Muslim community plaid back then in Morocco. Only the older generation, remembers their Muslim neighbors, speaking with sadness about the “good times”, back in history.
In the Dialogue to Action program we demand to be together, to walk on the streets of JLM together even when it cause us hardship – even when some young Palestinian kids throw stones at us and some Jewish people call the police about the Palestinians walking in their neighborhood.
On the last day of Passover, we decided to gather at my Jewish home to celebrate the last meal of Passover and the Mimouna. One of the participants, a unique Sufi Muslim Palestinian who is also a chef took it upon himself to prepare the meal for the Jews, just like old times.
We had Christians, Muslims and Jews together, Israelis and Palestinians with a Buddhist American visitor who was so surprised by the honest dialogue she saw, the open hearts, the amazing food and the love among the group. She came to me again and again to ask: “so, is he Palestinian? Israeli? Muslim?” I was smiling, seeing her desire to learn and her confusion that we all look the same.
But beyond the laughing and the joy, this group of people knows, very well, that they are on a mission. They must be honest with each other, despite frequent disagreements, and most importantly, they must listen and build trust among themselves. The following week, these courageous people handled one of the most difficult dialogues I have ever experienced about their collective pasts, the creation of pain, the Israeli independence day and the Nakba (catastrophe) day of the Palestinians. I deeply believe that their ability to engage with these deeply challenging subjects comes, at least in part, from the fact that they have chosen to celebrate together and to bring back interfaith traditions from their lives.