Saint Veneration Among the Jews in Morocco
Among Moroccan Jews, saint worship is an important cultural characteristic, practiced throughout the population. Saint Veneration among the Jews in Morocco, the only book in English on this topic, contains essential information about Moroccan Jewry not available anywhere else. The Hebrew edition, published by Magnes Press in 1984, has become a standard classic in the study of the history, culture, and religious practices of Moroccan Jewry.
In this new English language edition, based on ten years of fieldwork, Issachar Ben-Ami provides the basic historical and ethnographic information about saint veneration. He illuminates the intricate network that connects the saints and their faithful followers, while revealing the ideological fundamentals that sustain the interrelationship and ensure ritual continuity.
Using material selected from more
than 1,200 testimonies collected during the course of his research, Ben-Ami describes historical and legendary types of saints, customs and beliefs related to the saints or their sanctuaries, and the practices and ceremonies that take place during or outside the hillulah, the the festival that celebrates the anniversary of the death of a saint. Two chapters are dedicated to a comparison with the cult of saints among the Muslims in Morocco as well as to the relationship between Jews and Muslims in Morocco in what concerning saint veneration.
In addition, Ben-Ami has included an exhaustive list of 656 saints-25 of whom are women-as well as documentation of the burial sites and legendary stories of the saints' lives as they have been told by their followers and worshippers in Israel. Also included are popular creative works such as legends, stories, dreams, and songs extolling the greatness and miraculous deeds of the saints.
The picture that emerges from this study is that of a strong community of believing Jews who lived in the expectancy of the coming of the Messiah and welcomed miracles as part of their routine life. With the immigration of the
Jews of Morocco to other countries, this fascinating world has disappeared, although it has found new ways of expression in Israel.
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List of Illustrations
Terms Used to Designate Saints
Genesis of a Saint
Slaughter ritual continued 220 262 264 268 270 276
Venerator See Worshipper 29 31 52 66 70 90
Families of Saints and Their Descendants
Saint Worship as Practiced by Jews and Muslims in Morocco
Visit to the saint See Pilgrimage 146n 17 156 197n 18 204 226
Study of Torah and Talmud 2425 161 163 169n 45 203 210
Moroccan Jewry and Saint Worship in Israel
Tales and Legends
Vow 49 50 54 55 56 57 59n 12 227 238 249 251 253 258
The Saints and Erets Yisrael
Saints and Their Disciples
Saints as Miracle Makers
Saints and the World of Nature
Dreams in Saint Veneration
Poems and Songs of the Hillulah
The Communal Organization around the Holy Sites
Relations between Jews and Muslims in Saint Veneration