All Insights

Marrakech: Discovering the Akrich Nursery, at the Heart of a Jewish Cemetery

byKaoutar Ait Lahaj, Hajar Toufik
onApril 5, 2021

Written by Hajar Toufik, Journalist, in Arabic
Translated into English by Kaoutar Ait Lahaj, HAF Program Coordinator

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) continues to develop its projects relating to the creation of organic tree nurseries by using the arable land belonging to the Moroccan Jewish community.

Nearly ten years ago, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), a Moroccan-American association, launched its project called The House of Life, which establishes a link between Muslim families and the Moroccan Jewish community.

It is indeed an agricultural initiative that utilizes the land adjacent to Jewish burial sites, establishing tree nurseries and organic medicinal plants for the benefit of neighboring Muslim communities.

The Akrich nursery in the province of Al Haouz was the first fruit of a partnership between the HAF and the Jewish community in Morocco. It was developed within a 700-year-old Jewish cemetery where the tomb of revered Rabbi Raphael Hacohen is located.

A few days ago, the HAF and its various partners inaugurated a solar irrigation system, thanks in particular to a donation from the National Federation of Electricity, Electronics and Renewable Energies (FENELEC).

“This system will ensure sustainable development for this nursery, which has produced, since its opening, 180,000 almond, fig, pomegranate, and lemon trees that are distributed to surrounding villages,” explains Hajiba Boumasmar, project manager within the Foundation.

Appointed manager of this nursery, Abderrahim is also the guardian of the cemetery, which still welcomes Moroccan Jews from elsewhere. In this small village, the annual Hiloula attracts hundreds of people from Morocco and abroad.

“It’s a place that was managed by my ancestors. My grandfather told us that Rabbi Raphael HaCohen was passing through this village, and then he died and was buried here,” he recalls.

In November 2020, a similar project was launched in the province of Ouarzazate. The High Atlas Foundation has set the goal of establishing nurseries within the 600 sites belonging to the Jewish community in Morocco.