Jewish& is a blog by Be’chol Lashon, which gives voice to the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity of Jewish identity and experience. The original multicultural people, Jews have lived around the world for millennia. Today, with globalism and inclusion so key in making choices about engaging in Jewish life,Jewish& provides a forum for personal reflection, discussion, and debate.
As Jews around the world conclude the observance of Passover, many will be rushing to pizza parlors to fill their stomachs with delightfully leavened food. But Jews of North African descent take the party to a whole new level, with the observance of Mimouna, a feast and celebration, with festive dress, special foods and music.
As JIMENA explains:
Mimouna is a traditional festival celebrated by Moroccan Jews at nightfall on the last day of Passover and throughout the following day until sundown. Families open their homes to the public as they host a celebration involving family, friends, neighbors, and food. A family’s kitchen table features many different cuisines including assorted fruits, vegetables, eggs, cakes, sweet meats, milk and wine, butter, honey, jams, and the popular pastry called Mufleta. Since the celebration coincides with the last day of Passover breads, cakes and leavened breads previously prohibited from being eaten during Passover are particularly present in the celebration. Mimouna is a time to celebrate luck and good fortune as well as the start of the spring season. Foods eaten symbolize fertility, joy, abundance, success, health, and prosperity.
After the internal focus on the Jewish experience of the Exodus, Mimouna celebrations were community affairs with families opening the doors to friends and neighbors. And because Jews were not allowed to own flour during Passover, in North Africa they relied on Muslim neighbors to supply the ingredients for making the pastries and cakes. This sharing across religious lines was thought to be a blessing for the spring growing season, a sign of good things to come.
Even after Jews were forced to leave Arab lands, Jews from Morocco, Tunisia and other North African countries brought this tradition to their new homes in Israel, Canada, France, South America, and the United States.
On Sunday May 1st, Be’chol Lashon is excited to join JIMENA and San Francisco’s Magain David Sephardim Congregation in this year’s Mimouna celebration. Come to listen to traditional music, connect with friends and of course eat Mufleta, the Moroccan crepe-like pancakes that are dipped in honey. Drop by if you want to join in the fun!
Even if you can’t get to San Francisco, Jerusalem or Fez to join in one of the many community parties, or if you are not of North African descent, you can get in on the Mimouna celebrations. Make your favorite sweets or try your hand at Mufleta. It take a bit of practice to make perfectly but are easy to make and as Sandra Menachem of San Francisco says, “so delicious that they disappear before they have a chance to get cold.” They have only a few ingredients so you can easily make your own. Serve it with mint tea and lots of honey to help ensure that all that you do this Spring is sweet and successful.
Or share this video from the folks at Shalom Sesame with your family and take an evening to have the elders in the family tell stories of their childhood, the neighborhoods that they grew up in and the friends they made!
For a traditional feel, play this video that features Rabbi David Buzaglo singing about the brotherhood of Mimouna:
Whether or not your family comes from North Africa or another Arab land or not, celebrating Mimouna takes the liberation of Passover to a whole new level.