Haim Zafrani, the researcher with a passion for Judaism and Islam

Haim Zafrani was born in Essaouira on June 10, 1922, into an Andalusian Jewish family belonging to the nobility, which settled in the Sous region after being expelled from Spain in 1492.

He lived in the care of his grandparents who surrounded him with great affection after his father’s death, when he was barely four years old.

From a young age, Haim Zafrani has shown great insight and a strong willingness to learn and prospect. He was not satisfied with ready-to-use information and data. He taught Arabic in Jewish schools in Morocco since he was as fluent in Arabic as he was in Hebrew.

He lived between Casablanca, Rabat and Paris, where he studied and worked at the University of Paris 8, where he founded the Department of Civilizations and Oriental Studies. It was also in Paris where he died in 2004.

In addition to his specialization in Sephardic Jewish culture and Jewish-Arab relations, Haim Zafrani was a world-renowned linguistics scholar and historian. The world’s leading specialized journals abound in his work on Judaism in the land of Islam, particularly in Morocco.

Haim Zafrani was also obsessed with music. He is credited with recording many songs by the famous Rabbi David Buzaglo. He was also busy searching for archives, ancient works and rare manuscripts that allowed him to document himself for his writings. He sought his works in ancient cities and villages, demolished mosques and abandoned temples, which led him to a conclusion he always reiterated: Judaism has always been a structural component of Moroccan diversity.

His friend Edmond Amran El Maleh was right to say that “Haïm, this native of Essaouira, is the Moroccan Jew who has fully assumed responsibility for his rich and multicultural identity. »

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