David Bouzaglo: The Rabbi Poet

David Bouzaglo is both a rabbi and an artist, and is one of the most famous in Morocco and Israel. He was born in the outskirts of Marrakech in 1903. His passion for singing appeared as he was growing up, before moving with his family at the age of 16 to Casablanca, where he had the opportunity to study the basics of the Torah and Judaism, but without turning away from poetry and singing.

He began his career as “Hazzan”, but his love of poetry and song overcame his religious interests. Thus, he became famous, much more as an artist than as a rabbi.

David Bouzaglo had a passion for Arabic music, especially Andalusian music. He liked to listen to the songs of Oum Kalthoum, Mohammad Abdelwahhab and Asmahan. He wrote poems, with the same ease, both in Arabic and Hebrew.

Rabbi David Bouzaglo was respected by both Jews and Muslims, who came in large numbers to the synagogues of Casablanca to listen to his voice. As a result, his reputation had spread beyond the economic capital to other cities and regions of Morocco. In addition to singing in temples on all religious occasions, David Bouzaglo also hosted private parties, of which he became the leading star.

He created many musical groups composed of young people to whom he taught the principles of singing and music, among whom was Haïm Locke, the famous rabbi and musician.In 1965, Rabbi David Bouzaglo immigrated to Israel, where he was received as a hero by the Moroccan Jews who had arrived there before him. Therefore, he began to be overwhelmed by invitations to host festivals throughout Israel as Moroccan Jews became proud of their Moroccan musical culture, which had previously been marginalized within the Jewish state. His fame became such that many neighborhoods and streets in Israel were named after him.

In addition to losing his eyesight at the age of 46, the death of his eldest son affected him greatly and brought his artistic career to a premature end. He devoted the rest of his life to religious singing until his death in 1975.

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