Our country is full of history and cultures that connect between two communities, those of Moroccan Muslims and Moroccan Jews. We work together, constantly trying to preserve our culture so that it is not lost to new developments the world over.
I want to share my experience at the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), a non-profit organization that works toward sustainable development.
First, this field of work entails so many concepts, activities, and goals, such as saving the Earth, creating a green environment, appropriately managing natural resources, and so much else. Less commonly thought of as part of development is the preservation of cultures so that they remain for generations to come.
HAF plants trees and builds and manages organic fruit tree nurseries in partnership with the Moroccan Jewish community, a project coined “House of Life.” On the one hand, we believe that planting trees is a noble and environmentally friendly action to take with rural Moroccan communities. On the other hand, the nurseries built on land lent in-kind by the Moroccan Jewish Community and adjacent to the burial spaces of revered Jewish saints provides them with an element of sustainability and even autonomy.
The first such interfaith nursery was established in 2012 in the village of Akrich, Tameslouht commune, in the Al Haouz province. It exists next to the cemetery and tomb of Rabbi Raphael Hacohen, which is over 700 years old. Each year, we at HAF plant 40,000 seeds – carob, fig, and pomegranate – next to this sacred place and, once grown, transplant the saplings with farmers, cooperatives, associations, and schools all over Morocco. It is now equipped with a solar water pump system thanks to another great partner, FENELEC.
The second House of Life nursery was established in November 2020. Built next to the cemetery and burial place of Rabbi David-ou-Moché, it is located in the village of Imerdal, Igheram N’ogdal commune, in the Ouarzazate province. This nursery will produce 100,000 trees annually – inclusive of fig, pomegranate, olive, almond, and walnut – that will then be distributed and transplanted with farming families.
We can imagine what each such nursery has the potential to convey to future generations about Moroccan culture(s). Each tree planted will itself preserve and tell a magnificent story.