Israeli Mimounas, and a lost past of Jewish-Arab celebration

Everyone’s seen the pictures before – a politician wearing a fez, sitting in front of a pile of mufletot, as well-wishers – perhaps a belly dancer or two – hover around bearing trays of sweets and mint tea in a development town somewhere in Israel.

The “Mimouna”, a traditional North African Jewish holiday to mark the end of Passover, stopped being a holiday mainly for Maghrebi Jews years ago, becoming a sort of pan-Israeli Jewish occasion for partying and binging on sugary sweets. Along the way, Israeli politicians seized upon the holiday as a can’t-miss opportunity to press the flesh, and win hearts and minds among traditional Sephardi and Mizrachi voters. To put it differently, on the morning after Mimouna, it’s a safe bet you’re going to see a picture of Shimon Peres in a fez.


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