By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 29, 2013

The day after Pesach is observed in Israel as Maimouna. It has become a celebration of North African Jewish culture, a sort of Sephardi pride day. The festivities begin in the evening as soon as Pesach is out, with people eating newly baked bread with a special ceremony for making the first dough after Pesach. (Like a more authentic, Moroccan version of queuing up outside Carmellis.)

Flowers, wheat stalks and yeast decorate the Maimouna table. A live fish to symbolise fertility and gold and silver for prosperity are also popular decorations. Guests are offered a lettuce leaf dipped in honey for a good, sweet harvest.

The origins of the word are obscure. Some connect it to the word maimon, meaning good fortune in Arabic. Others link the celebration to Maimonides, the greatest Spanish-North African Jewish scholar. In either case, Maimouna is hugely popular, though some rabbis frown on it as people make Maimouna preparations on Pesach, which is forbidden.

All major politicians assiduously visit Maimouna hotspots, such as Jerusalem’s Sacher Park, and get themselves photographed eating gooey pastries to show their support for the Moroccan Jewish community. 

Last updated: 1:10pm, March 29 2013