Jewish life still exists in Morocco with an estimated 2,500 Jews currently living in the country. Morocco has the largest Jewish population in the Arab world. If you know where to look, you can find signs of both past and present Jewish life. There are at least two Jewish Synagogues in Marrakech. While the most active temple is in the modern part of town, it was the older Lazama Synagogue in Marrakech that attracted us.
Hidden down an alleyway in the mellah (Jewish Quarter), Lazama Synagogue is located in a surprisingly bright and beautiful courtyard. The alley’s entrance is subtly guarded by security. Most people walk by without ever knowing it is there. At the end of the same street sits the Jewish cemetery.
Inside Lazama Synagogue in Marrakech
Once located, the caretaker let us into the locked synagogue. This is similar to our experience getting into the Jewish Quarter in Fes Morocco.
A well tended to courtyard surround the Lazama Synagogue. Around the outer edges are curtains offering privacy to the members who live there.
A Sukkah in Marrakech
We visited during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. As a result, there was a sukkah in the courtyard. Click here to learn about the Sukkah and the holiday of Sukkot from Judaism 101.
“The Mellah of Marrakesh captures the vibrancy of Jewish society in Marrakesh in the tumultuous last decades prior to colonial rule and in the first decades of life in the colonial era. Although focused on the Jewish community, it offers a compelling portrait of the political, social, and economic issues confronting all of Morocco and sets a new standard for urban social history.” ―Dale F. Eickelman
Jewish Cemetery in Marrakesh
Back on the road, we could see the entrance to the Jewish cemetery at the end of the street. Its unassuming gate gave no hint to the fact that this is the largest Jewish cemetery in Morroco. The caretaker stopped us at the gate, which surpriesd us as we have read that anyone can enter. He allowed us entry after we told him we were Jewish.
How to See Lazama Synagogue in Marrakech:
- The mellah (old Jewish Quarter) is just outside the old medina.
- The first synagogue built at this location in 1492, just after the Spanish Inquisition. However, the current temple was built in the early 1900s.
- Lazama Synagogue is open Sunday-Friday at 9 am, closing at 1 pm on Friday and 5 pm on the other days. It is closed to the public on Saturday and on Jewish holidays.
- If you struggle to find Lazama Synagogue in Marrakech (and you will), for a small tip you can usually ask a local child to bring you right to the somewhat hidden, and unlabeled entrance.
- There are other small synagogues located in the Marrakech mellah, but they are not open to the public.
Take a tour that includes Lazama Synagogue and other Jewish Sites in the City
Marrakech is a fun city to explore, but many people prefer to discover it with a guide. It’s a city well known for friendly people. Unfortunately, many of them may take advantage of your unfamiliarity with their customs and lifestyle. There are many tour options, but of all the tours we have explored that have good reviews, only this Full-Day Marrakech Discovery Tour with Lunch specifically mentions Lazama Synagogue.
This full day, small group (maximum 6 people) tour is perfect for first-time visitors to Marrakech. It starts and ends at your hotel, and includes entrance fees. You will see the largest mosque in Marrakesh, the Lazama Synagogue, Bahia Palace, gardens, statues, and Jemaa el Fnaa (the main square in Marrakesh.
Tours of Marrakech that visit the mellah
We found several well-rated tours that visit the Jewish Quarter. However, none of them specifically mention Lazama or any other Synagogue in Marrakech.
- Full day private tour of the medina and souks
- Marrakech: Private half-day walking tour
- Marrakech: Private full-day city tour
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