WASHINGTON (Apr. 30)
Jewish-Moroccan relations were boosted as a leader of the American Sephardic Jewish community was awarded one of Morocco’s highest honors.
Liliane Shalom of New York, a native of Casablanca, is the first Moroccan woman to receive the Commander of the Ouissam Alaouite, the order of the royal Moroccan dynasty. The award has been presented to one other woman-former United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.
“His Majesty (King Hassan II) wants to demonstrate that she remains faithful among the faithful, although she left the country,” said Moroccan Ambassador M’hamed Bargach, newly arrived in Washington, as he presented the award to Shalom at the Embassy on behalf of the King “She is striking evidence of the fidelity of Morocco towards its son and its religious tolerance.”
Shalom, 47, was choked with tears as the award was fastened around her neck, and for several minutes she was unable to speak. Her husky voice quivered as she told the guests how during World War II King Muhammod V, the father of Hassan II, protected his Jewish subjects from the pro-Nazi Vichy government.
‘… A DEBT I CAN NEVER REPAY’
“I have a debt I can never repay for the 300,000 co- religionists who owe their lives to his majesty. How much more can one owe but one’s life?” Shalom said. “If I had been born in Europe, just fifteen miles away I would have been a victim. But instead I am blessed with three cultures – Jewish, Arab and French.”
Shalom is vice president of the Rassemblement Mondial du Judaisme Marocain which seeks to bring together Jews and Arabs. She is also founder and president of American Sephardic Federation, an umbrella group for Jews of Sephardic origin, and is active in the United Jewish Appeal and Project Renewal.
About 100 persons attended the kosher lunch at the Embassy on Sunday, including Shoshana Cardin, president of the Council of Jewish Federations.