Kamal Hachkar visited his birthplace in the Atlas Mountains with his father when he was 18 years old; that was when he first discovered that Jews once lived in Morocco. Until then, he had always thought that all Jews were of Eastern European-Ashkenazi descent, like the Jews he had met in Paris where he grew up.
Hachkar, 36, a history teacher with a master’s degree in history from Sorbonne University in Paris, began to ask questions. He posed a lot of questions to his father, his grandfather and the elders of Tinghir village, where he was born and which he left in his infancy. Very quickly, a surprising picture emerged. A Jewish community of about 2,000 souls had lived in Tinghir, a village inhabited by Berbers — the most ancient residents of North Africa. The last of the Jews had left the town in the early 1960s, and today most of them live in Israel.