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Israeli theater brings musical about Moroccan Jews to Rabat

November 28, 2022

It is the first time Tel Aviv's Habima Theater performs in Islamic country

A delegation from the Habima National Theater is set to perform a popular musical, “Spanish Orchard,” in Morocco’s capital of Rabat, making it the first ever performance of the Israeli group in a Muslim country.

Noam Semel, CEO of the Habima Theater, told i24NEWS that the play will be performed in Hebrew and Ladino, the language of Spanish Jews who immigrated from Spain in the 15th century.

“It’s (a story) about a Jewish-Hebrew-Ladino neighborhood in Jerusalem in the beginning of the 20th century under the Ottoman Empire and later on under the British Mandate, but it’s about Moroccan Jews that settled in Jerusalem’s Old City,” he explained. 

Semel described the play as a musical comedy that talks about family relations, jealousy and enmity. It was written by the fifth Israeli president Yitzhak Navon, who was born in Israel, but whose mother came from Morocco, “so he was very much influenced by Moroccan culture.” 

“It will be the first time Habima National Theater of the State of Israel performs in a very big Islamic country, it’s a great event,” he stressed.

Myriam Elmaleh Leser, producer for Association AJM that brought the play to Morocco, told i24NEWS that since the normalization of ties between the two countries after the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, the Moroccan public is "eager to know more and more about the Israeli culture.”

“We brought a lot of cultural events to Morocco and all the events were very well accepted with big applause by the Moroccan public,” she said. 

“We are talking about culture that brings together the two peoples in a field that is common for both of the countries, which is Moroccan heritage,” she added. 

Leser expressed hope that more festivals, productions and exhibitions of Israeli art will be organized in Morocco in the near future, which will lead to “developing the relations in other fields to better know each other.”

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