Asilah, Morocco

Abandoned Jewish Cemetery of Asilah

The legacy of a Moroccan Jewish community is remembered at this little mouldering cemetery

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Contributor: Martintxo

An abandoned Jewish cemetery in Asilah, Morocco, looks like a solemn and beatific spot by the ocean, but it holds a tragic history as well as some surprisingly mysterious headstones. 

Asilah (or Arcila) is one of the most beautiful cities in northern Morocco. It has one of the best preserved medina in Marocco and was host to a fluent Jewish community formed in the 15th century by sephardic jews expelled form Spain by the Catholic Monarchs. The last members of this community had to leave Morocco as persecution spread during the second half of last century.

Witness to that banished community is the tiny Jewish cemetery located right by the sea beneath the city walls of Asilah. The graves lie still there, sadly abandoned and surrounded by weeds. The gravestones are mainly simple and have epigrams, written in Hebrew and in Spanish as it was usual in Sephardic communities. 

Although abandoned, the cemetery still stands as a reminder of the persecution suffered by Jews through history.

The graveyard also holds a mysterious and ominous gravestone for an unknown young girl named Simi located at the very edge of the cliff overlooking the Atlantic. The text on the stone reads, "Simi Roiff, died in 15 Tamus 5704 (6 July 1944) 'Bitter and desperate, she left herself drag by misfortune and let her young soul be snatched'”

Any explorer visiting the cemetery would do well to say a prayer for not only the tragic Jewish communities that once lived in the area, but also for poor, unfortunate Simi.

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    Asilah, Morocco
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