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A Paris exhibition sheds light on the Jewish population of Morocco in the 1930s

Jews from Tafilalet, Morocco. / mahJ
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A free photography exhibition at the Museum of the Art and History of Judaism (mahJ) in Paris sheds light on the largest Jewish population that ever existed in the Arab world in Morocco.

Entitled «Juifs du Maroc», the exsibition is a particularly personal project for Hannah Assouline, a French photographer with more than 30 years of experience. The exhibition includes the photos of her father Rabbi Messaoud Assouline, Arab News reports.

Born in Algeria and based in Paris, she tells how she managed to have these photos that pay tribute to the Jewish population in Morocco, some of which have already been exhibited between 1934 and 1937, by photographer Jean Besancenot.

«I met Jean Besancenot in 1985, when my interest in photography began. As soon as Besancenot saw me, he immediately knew where I was from. He told me, ‘You come from Tafilalet (a region in southern Morocco) and you are a Jew», Assouline said.

He then showed her more than photos from his collection which then included 2,800 photographs representing the Jewish world of Morocco. 

She then came across a 1935 snapshot of a very young married couple and noticed that the boy looked like one of her nephews. Intrigued, she bought the photograph - as well as six others as gifts for her siblings - eager to show it to her family, including her father, who confirmed that it was indeed him in this photo.

Jean Besancenot was mandated by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the new Musée de l'Homme in Paris to carry out ethnographic work of traditional Moroccan clothing, as part of the 1930s exhibition, recalls Arab News. 

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