Mimouna

In Israel the end of Passover is marked with a celebration called Mimouna, which is a custom brought to this country by the Jews of Morocco.

In Morocco, Mimouna was celebrated with some beautiful and unique customs.

Immediately following afternoon prayers, or mincha, Jews would go out to the orchards to view the blooming fruit trees, a symbol of spring and renewal, and recite the blessing of the trees.

In the evening, they would bring Passover delicacies to their Muslim neighbours, who would in turn present the Jews with a gift basket of yeast and leavened foods, or chametz, to mark the end of the holiday. Many people point to this as evidence of the good relations enjoyed by Jews and Muslims in Morocco.

One of the items in the gift basket presented by the Muslim neighbours was yeast, which the Jews used that evening to prepare the dough for a leavened delicacy called mufleta – crepes covered with melted butter and honey (as seen in the photo). The kneading of the dough was a ceremony in itself, with the men singing accompanying hymns and then presenting their wives with coins to be placed in the dough for luck and prosperity in the coming year.

In the mixed Arab-Jewish towns of Israel Mimouna is sometimes celebrated in the traditional way, with exchanges of food between Muslims and Jews. But mostly it has become a Jewish-only celebration with massive amounts of food, dancing to traditional North African music and much rejoicing at the beginning of spring and the season of renewal. Interestingly, Mimouna has been adopted by all the Jews of Israel – not just those of North African descent – as an occasion to celebrate.

Katsav celebrates Mimouna
President Moshe Katsav celebrates Mimouna in the town of Netivot. credit: Alberto Dankenberg/Haaretz

For more about how Mimouna was celebrated yesterday in Israel, see this article in Haaretz newspaper.