A gala dinner was chaired in this respect by Princess Lalla Hasnaa, sister of King Mohammed VI, after the Moroccan Alaouite monarchy was declared a “Dynasty of Tolerance” at the event held by the Em Habanim Sephardic Congregation and Community Center.
Speaking at the event, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa read the Proclamation of the Morocco Day on November 19 in Los Angeles in recognition of the commitment of Moroccan monarchs to tolerance and peace.
He said this proclamation aims to highlight Morocco’s longstanding tradition of tolerance and peace promotion as well as the leadership of King Mohammed VI to promote inter-cultural and inter-faith coexistence and dialogue.
The Mayor, afterwards, handed the princess the Proclamation of the California State Assembly and Senate decreeing November 19 “Morocco Day”. The text underscores the Monarchy’s role to fight anti-semitism and highlights the role played by late kings Mohammed V and Hassan II in protecting Moroccan Jews during WWII.
The Day honors Morocco as the only country in the region where Jewish culture and heritage has its own museum.
The text of the Proclamation congratulates His Majesty King Mohammed VI and Morocco for “their unwavering commitment to fighting anti-Semitism in North Africa through education, and for creating an environment conducive to inclusion, tolerance and peace.” It notes that these efforts can serve as a model for other countries in the region.
On the same occasion, the princess decorated renowned Jewish figures some of whom had Moroccan origins with some of the highest distinctions in the Kingdom.
Among the distinguished Maurice Marciano, a renowned businessman and member of the board of directors of the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Fez-born Jack Rimokh who created one of the largest leather goods companies in the world and Sidney Chriqui who was born in Casablanca and studied at the “Ecole Industrielle et Commerciale” before migrating in 1948 to the US where he worked for the Corps of Engineers.
Chriqui is one of the founders of the Em Habanim Sephardic congregation in 1974. He is also a poet and the author of a book on Morocco.
Born in Ouazzane and living in Los Angeles for more than 45 years, Rabbi Joshua Bittan was also decorated by the Princess with a Royal distinction. He is known for reconciling a traditional Sephardic/Moroccan perspective with the context of modern society.
The event was livened up by a Moroccan artistic breeze through musical performances by Amine Debbi, Michel Abikhzer, Moshe Louk and Mohamed Ba Jaddoub.
Albert Ifrah, president of the Habanim Sephardic congregation, and David Suissa, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, also spoke at the event expressing pride at their Moroccan heritage.