The days of awe are here and Morocco is flooded with Jewish tourists. One of them, the Israeli photographer Yisrael Bardugo, is excitedly touring the Jewish areas of the Muslim state, and documenting the preparations of the local community for Yom Kippur.
He came to photograph for a series of Chabad children's books "Kids as emissaries," depicting the lives of Chabad emissaries' children in the diaspora (inspired by the legendary book series "Children of the World"). But he says he discovered in Casablanca, Marrakech and its surroundings a buoyant and vivacious Jewish community.
Rabbi Levi Bannon, a Chabad emissary in Morocco, says that the community in Casablanca is preparing for Yom Kippur prayers which thousands are expected to participate in. Casablanca itself has dozens of synagogues, but in preparation for Yom Kippur, Chabad has even prepared a special area to welcome Jewish tourists visiting Morocco during the holiday season.
Isaac Ohayon, in charge of the ancient synagogue in the Mellah (the ancient Jewish quarters of Morocco), recounts that this time of year no less than 40 thousand Jews visit the city and the traffic is felt in its ancient synagogues and in the old Jewish neighborhoods which have been preserved for centuries.
Bardugo says the Jewish community is expecting the King of Morocco to send his son, the prince, to Yom Kippur prayers - a practice which the king exercised all of his childhood. Marrakech's community head, Jackie Kadosh, explains that the synagogue of Marrakech will host the King's representatives for a special prayer for the king's good health.
According to Bardugo, the lively traffic of dealers of the four species (used during Sukkot) has been felt, as they take the orders for etrogs which are grown in the Atlas Mountains. The festive atmosphere is also felt in the souqs - where Arab merchants sell pomegranates and etrogs for the local community.