High Atlas Foundation


Cultural Projects

During a one year period from September 2012 - September 2013, the High Atlas Foundation and its partners conducted a preservation and maintenance program for the Moslem, Christian, and Jewish cemeteries in Essaouira, which stand as present-day reminders of the multicultural past of this small city and Morocco at-large, where people of different faiths shared a town, a life, work, a culture, and language.

In order to perpetuate the memory and to re-kindle the spirit of this rich past, the High Atlas Foundation involved local associations, community leaders, students and teachers in the project over the course of one year. HAF uses a participatory development approach that includes beneficiaries as active partners in every step of the development process – from prioritizing goals to project implementation and management to monitoring and evaluation. Key to this approach is the facilitation of community planning meetings where beneficiaries together determine the types of projects they want to undertake and create action plans. During the project, we held weekly community meetings with representatives of local civil society and engaged more than 120 individuals in the planning and implementation of the project.
The preservation of these sacred sites included:
-    The deciphering and cataloguing of epitaphs in the three cemeteries;
-    The rehabilitation of three cemeteries; the Christian, new Jewish and Muslim Chouhadda cemeteries including clearing, planting and restoration activities;
-    The integration of over 400 local young people in a programme of educational presentations and visits to the cemeteries;
-    The creation of a self-guided brochure for visitors to Essaouira and to the cemeteries and the conception of a brochure by school students for their peers about Essaouira's history and cemeteries;
-    Community activities in the cemeteries to raise awareness of the cultural heritage they represent and to integrate the local community into their care and maintenance;
-    The integration of cemetery guardians in the cleaning, clearing, restoration and planting in the three cemeteries;
-    The organisation of community meetings, awareness-raising activities, media outreach, youth activities and a conference on the issues around Morocco and Essaouira’s multi-cultural unity and diversity;
-    Contact with and capacity building of over 120 members of civil society organizations in Essaouira; and
-    The creation of sustainable partnerships for the development of further activities in the fields of cultural preservation and human development in the Province of Essaouira and elsewhere in Morocco.

By making the cemeteries more inviting, encouraging more first-time visitors, and helping the younger generation remember their roots of peaceful co-existence, the goal has been to capture for future generations the spirit of Moslems and Jews, Europeans and Africans sharing a pleasant, flourishing, diverse, and united life together.
A full set of photos related to the cemetery preservation project is available on the HAF Flickr feed

The High Atlas Foundation is currently proposing a further project for Essaouira to continue the intercultural heritage work begun under this project. The goal of this new project is to initiate a knowledge preservation and awareness program for the buildings of the Essaouira medina which pertain to the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faiths (ie mosques, zawiyas, churches, synagogues and religious schools) and develop the historical narrative of these communities. This built heritage – which has variously disappeared, fallen into disuse, is used for alternative purposes or some is undergoing preservation programs – stands, like the cemeteries (to those who are aware of its existence) as a reminder of the rich multicultural past of this port city. The High Atlas Foundation seeks to identify a building of each religious faith for restoration, rehabilitation and use by the local community today.

Mimouna Club award for HAF and the Jewish community of Marrakech-Essaouira

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HAF receives award at the Mimouna Club MoroccoThe High Atlas Foundation was greatly honored on February 26th when we received a joint award, together with the Jewish community of Marrakech-Essaouira, from the Mimouna Club, at a reception held in Casablanca.

This recognition is for the special partnership that exists between HAF and the Jewish community of Marrakech-Essaouira, created to advance human development by planting millions of trees in order to help end rural poverty. It is hoped to extend both the link and the project to other Jewish communities throughout Morocco in the future.

The President of the Jewish community of Marrakech-Essaouira, Mr Jacky Kadoch, and HAF President Dr Yossef Ben-Meir both addressed the 200 or so guests including national leaders, speaking of the opportunities - for rural families and for positive cross-cultural interaction - that have been brought about as a result of this collaboration.

HAF receives award at the Mimouna Club MoroccoThe Mimouna Club builds knowledge and celebrates Moroccan Jewish culture in the context of the country’s diverse heritage. Now a national association, it was founded in 2007 as a student club at Al Akhawayn University by Elmehdi Boudra who is, additionally, a HAF Board member.

Photos courtesy of the Mimouna Club.


Videos of HAF's cemetery rehabilitation project in Essaouira

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Now you can watch videos and listen to content about HAF's cemetery rehabilitation project on the High Atlas Foundation YouTube channel! We hope you enjoy reliving this one-year project in Essaouira.

Project summary video:

HAF cemetery rehabilitation project 2012-13 Essaouira



Students prepare a brochure about the cemeteries for their peers

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students brochure workshop with HAF(EN) During the one-year cemetery preservation project, HAF and partners committed to producing two brochures. One for tourists and another for students, which was prepared by the students involved in our educational program.

On 19 June 2013, assisted by Soulaymane Razouki of communications agency Génération Pub, we held a workshop with young people of the Argania and Bayti associations. Their ideas and designs are included in the brochure attached below, which will be distributed to local schools and youth associations.

(FR) Au cours du projet de préservation des cimetières, la FHA et ses partenaires se sont engagés à produire deux brochures. Une pour les touristes et une autre pour des élèves et étudiants, qui a été préparé par les élèves impliqués dans notre programme éducatif.

Le 19 Juin 2013, assisté par Soulaymane Razouki de l'agence de communication Génération Pub, nous avons organisé un atelier avec les jeunes des associations Argania et Bayti. Leurs idées et leurs conceptions sont inclus dans la brochure ci-joint, qui sera distribué dans les écoles locales et les associations de jeunes.

students brochure workshop with HAF

Download this file (students brochure.jpg)brochure prepared by students for students389 Kb31/01/14 18:31

A field visit to Essaouira's historic cemeteries with local young people

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Argania, HAF and Bayti at Essaouira Jewish cemetery

تقرير حول الخرجة الاستكشافية للمقابر

انطلقت الخرجة في تمام الساعة 10 صباحا بمشاركة 29 طفلا : 17 بنت و 12 ولد. وبحضوركل من لينا و يوكا من مؤسسة الاطلس الكبير و روقية حنين رئيسة جمعية أركانيا للتفافة و التنمية و كذلك هشام العجيلة ممتل جمعية بيتي وزكرياء ميدي المتطوع بالمجموعة المغربية للتطوع. وكان في انتظار هؤلاء السيدة المكلفة بالمقبرتين اليهوديتين. إنطلقت الخرجة بالمقبرة اليهودية الجديدة فتم تقديم نبذة عن هذه الأخيرة كما لاحظ الأطفال وجود قبور 3 رابات الأول و هو اكبرهم اسمه ابراهام بنسوسان الذي توفي سنة 1941 و بجواره أفراد من عائلته كمريم المتوفية سنة 1944،

ومسعود كنافو الذي وافته المنية بدوره سنة 1974 كما أن هناك في الغرفة المجاورة الراب داوود بنعطار وفي الغرفة الثالثة راب اخر لم نعرف اسمه لأنه كان مكتوبا باللغة العبرية. وفي الساعة 10.30، اتجهنا إلى المقبرة اليهودية القديمة و التي تحتوي على أكتر من 7000 قبر. كما لوحظ ايضا وجود قبور لاتحتوي على اسماء وانما مجرد رموز للتفريق بين الجنسين. بعدها ذهبنا الى القبة التي تحتوي على قبر اكبر راب و هو الحيمبينتو والذي كان معروف عند اليهود و المسلمين لأنه كان يعتبر رجل الدين اليهودي لأنه كيفما كان أي مشكل عند اليهود والا ذهبوا لزيارته من اجل حلها و كان يقوم كذلك بالختانة ايضا وتحيى ذكرى موته كل سنة في شهر شتنبر كما ان عمر هذه المقبرة يقدر بحوالي 400 سنة وتسمى طقوس احياء ذكراه بحايلولا. وابى طفل لسؤالنا  انه عند قيام المغاربة بالمسيرة  الخضراء هل كان ذلك من اجل تحرير البلاد من اليهود ؟ وتم الشرح له و التفريق بين ما هو سياسي و ديني. و سأل اخر عن مغزى وجود الكتب في القبة فأجابته أنه الكتاب المقدس لليهود كما هو الحال بالنسبة للقران الكريم بالنسبة للمسلمين وعن وجود الستار الذي يقسم القبة الى قسمين فكانت الاجابة ان النساء يجلسون في جهة و الرجال في الجهة الاخرى. و بعد ذلك توجهنا لمواقد موجودة بالمقبرة و التي يقوم اليهود باشعال الشموع هناك خلال حايلولا من اجل طلب المغفرة . وقد لاحظ الأطفال وجود قبر المقاوم ادمون عمران المالح الذي توفي سنة 2010 رغم ان المقبرة لم يدفن بها منذ سنة 1845 الا انها كانت رغبته الاخيرة.

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Video Gallery

HAF Projects

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Trees for Kids: Sami's ProjectNursery of 50,000 walnut and cherry treesClean drinking water for 1,250 rural MoroccansCooperative benefiting 610 women and girlsParticipatory training with students from Hassan II UniversityKate Jeans-Gail and Tom Tolen (RPCVs) Tree Nursery MemorialsOlive tree planting and irrigation with 200 families near TafraouteIntegrating tree planting, irrigation and potable water for 3,500 people
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High Atlas Foundation in Morocco

High Atlas Foundation
4 Rue Qadi Ayaad, Al Manar 4A - 3eme étage,
Apt 12, El Harti, Gueliz, Marrakech, Maroc

Tel: +212 (0)5 24 42 08 21

Fax: +212 (0)5 24 42 20 21

E-mail: haf@highatlasfoundation.org

Directions to HAF Marrakech Office

High Atlas Foundation in US

High Atlas Foundation
332 Bleecker Street, #K110
New York, NY  10014

Tel: (646) 688-2946

Fax: (646)786-4780

E-mail: haf@highatlasfoundation.org


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