Monday, August 1, 2011

Baba Sali Home in Rissani (Morocco)

Presented by Diarna ( Enter the old mellah (Jewish quarter) of Rissani, a city in southeastern Morocco near the Algerian border, and explore its narrow alleyways in search of a famous home. Buried inside the mellah's labyrinth is the former home of the Baba Sali (Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira), an internationally renowned rabbi. Before he became an icon in Israel, France, and around the world, the Baba Sali lived on the edge of the Sahara desert in Morocco. In 1912, his brother was murdered in Rissani, purportedly sacrificing his life to a local chieftan so that the rest of the Jewish community could survive. The Baba Sali continued to lead the large Jewish community of the Tafilalet region of southern Morocco, training most of the rabbis in the area. In 1950, he sold his home to a Muslim woman and left for Israel. After moving in, she recounts that the Baba Sali appeared to her in a dream and told her not to live in the house. She eventually vacated the home — which now sits empty — but opens it up so visitors can light candles by the well in the home's central courtyard.

This video begins with a walk into the mellah via the main gate, which for centuries was locked at night, enclosing the Jewish inhabitants. Visitors then proceed down a winding street until eventually arriving at the dark alleyway where the Baba Sali's home is located.

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