One morning we wandered around the medina looking for the old Jewish quarter. Essaouira used to be called “Mogador” and was home to a mostly Jewish population who settled here to handle trade with Europe. In the late nineteenth century, there were 38 active synagogues and almost 20,000 Jews who made up the majority of the city’s population . Around the 1950s, the Jewish people left to resettle in Israel and the synagogues are now largely gone.
The first synagogue we found, the Simon Attias Synagogue, built in 1882, was closed on the day we visited. Its entryway can be seen in the featured photo above, as Howard knocked on it to see if the synagogue was open. It wasn’t. Walking down the Rue du Mellah, still in the old Jewish quarter, we found the old community synagogue, Slat Lkahal which was built circa 1850, see first and last photos in the gallery above. The synagogue’s original arc, shown in the last photo above, came from the Jewish community of Livorno, Italy, which had commerce dealings with Mogador in the nineteen century. The synagogue fell into extreme disrepair in recent years and now is being renovated by community and visitor donations. It is a beautiful and old place that hopefully will be refurbished in the years to come.