Encouraging creativity and culture


Proverbs and Songs of Jewish Women from Morocco




This project enters in my concern for the transmission of the multi-secular oral heritage of the North African Jewries. Having realized that all of this rich heritage is endangered by the dispersion of the Jewish communities and their reinstallation in new cultural environments, I documented these traditions by hundreds of recording hours and I am preparing several comprehensive books for their diffusion.


The project “Proverbs and Songs of Jewish Women from Morocco” is the outcome of a long fieldwork I conducted these last 35 years in Israel, France, Morocco and Montreal. It is a part of a comprehensive research project on the Judeo-Arabic dialects and oral traditions of the Moroccan Jews. For this research I interviewed hundreds of old Jewish informants, men and women, born in Morocco, and recorded them for more than a thousand of hours. The project concerning proverbs and oral poetry of Judeo-Moroccan women completes my studies and publications on cultural and musical Jewish traditions and writings in North Africa, including Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic poetry, discourse, Haskalah, and theater.
The project consists in the publication in several volumes of about 8000 proverbs and formulaic sayings and hundreds of songs pertaining to the oral traditions of Jewish women from several communities in Morocco, accompanied by a cultural, discursive and linguistic analysis. The proverbs and songs will be presented in their Judeo-Arabic original Judeo-Arabic texts and translated and commented in French. The volumes to be published are:

A. A study on the formulaic sayings of Moroccan Jews
L’énonciation proverbiale et formulaire des femmes juives du Maroc. Etude culturelle et linguistique.

B. A collection of about 8000 proverbs and formulaic sayings.
Le Trésor de Donna Médina, de Simi Zafrani et d‘autres femmes juives du Maroc: 8000 proverbes et énoncés formulaires judéo-arabes de Taroudant et d’autres communautés judéo-marocaines.
– Volume I: L‘homme et sa condition: heurs et malheurs du sort, la souffrance. les caractères et les comportements.
– Volume II: L‘homme et son environnement social: le groupe, la famille et le discours.
– Volume III: L‘homme et son environnement physique: les objets, l‘espace, le temps général et le temps juif.

C. The Judeo-Arabic poetry of Jewish women from Morocco.
1. La poésie ‘Aroubi des femmes juives du Maroc: 400 poèmes judéo-arabes avec une étude culturelle, littéaire et linguistique
2. La poésie judéo-arabe orale des femmes juives du Maroc pour les jours fastes et néfastes.

Three Judeo-Arabic proverbs (translated)
a. A proverb never lies.
b. The death swore that it would not take away without a good reason.
c. Without the cold of Friday evenings and the boredom of Saturday evenings, nobody had got married.

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