The Jewish Voice - In a message at the restoration ceremony of the 17th century Slat al Fassayine Synagogue in Fez, HM King Mohammed VI reiterated his commitment to religious freedom and spiritual diversity, and emphasized the importance of the three-thousand-year-old Jewish legacy in Morocco.
"As Commander of the Faithful," the King said, "I am committed to defending the faith and the community of believers, and to fulfilling my mission with respect to upholding freedom of religion for all believers in the revealed religions, including Judaism, whose followers are loyal citizens for whom I deeply care... The Moroccan people's cultural traditions, which are steeped in history, are rooted in our citizens' abiding commitment to the principles of coexistence, tolerance and harmony between the various components of the nation."
Slat al Fassayine, the oldest synagogue in Fez, played a significant role in the spiritual life of Fez's once-30,000-strong Jewish community but had fallen into disrepair. Today, with financial support from the Jewish community of Fez, the Foundation Jacques Toledano, Serge and Jacques Berdugo, the Simon Levy family, and the Federal Republic of Germany, after a two-year project, the restoration is complete.The inauguration ceremony was attended by many high-level Moroccan and German officials, as well as Jewish and Muslim religious leaders.
King Mohammed VI commended the institutions and individuals whose years of effort led to the restoration of Slat al Fassayine and called for the restoration of all Moroccan synagogues. Morocco is intent on making the Judeo-Moroccan cultural heritage a priority as part of its larger domestic program to preserve the unique and historic aspects of Moroccan culture.
"As is enshrined in the Kingdom's new Constitution," His Majesty said, "the Hebrew heritage is indeed one of the time-honored components of our national identity. For this reason, I wish to call for the restoration of all the synagogues in the other Moroccan cities so that they may serve not only as places of worship, but also as forums for cultural dialogue and for the promotion of our cultural values."