This article is a first-of-its-kind exploration of the vernacular Judeo-Arabic popular nonfiction printed in Morocco between the early twentieth century and the 1960s, in the form of single pages, pamphlets or small books. This literature provided readers with knowledge pertaining to Jewish law (halakha), ethics, culture, history, and Zionist ideology, in order to reinforce Jewish religious and national identity. I suggest here that vernacular-speaking literatures emerged in Morocco in the early twentieth century following interwoven, mutually influential processes. The four processes that precipitated vernacular Judeo-Arabic nonfiction in Morocco consist of (1) the opening of local Hebrew printing houses across Morocco’s cities; (2) the emergence of new elites within Morocco’s Jewish communities; (3) the rejection of the obligation to observe religious strictures, coupled with secularization processes; and (4) the advent of a Jewish national movement, i.e. Zionism.
Author: David Guedj