Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, has been commemorated for what is believed to be the first time in an Arab state.
In Casablanca, Morocco, an audience mostly comprised of Jews attended the April 26 ceremony, which began with the kindling of six candles in memory of the 6 million Jews who died during the Holocaust.
The Jewish community of Morocco was spared deportations by the Germans due do the efforts of the late Sultan Muhammad V, Serge Berdugo recalled in his speech. Berdugo is the secretary-general of the Jewish Community in Morocco and a former Moroccan tourism minister.
But despite the sultan’s declaration that all his subjects were equal, the Moroccan Jewish community suffered under the collaborationist French Vichy government. Foreign Jews who came into Morocco were put in labor or concentration camps. And after the U.S. landings, a Casablanca synagogue was destroyed and pogroms broke out across the country.
At the ceremony, the audience also heard the testimony of Henry Bulawko, a member of the resistance who survived Auschwitz. Today, he is vice president of CRIF, the umbrella body representing the French Jewish community.
A choir of young Moroccan Jews, known as Kolot Casablanca, or The Voices of Casablanca, performed.