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The Jeff Malka Sephardic Collection

Index of Illustrated Mogador Ketubot


For many years, Asher Knafo and David Bensoussan have collected Ketubot that were illustrated in Mogador (now called Essaouira), Morocco. Mogador is a seaport on the south of the Atlantic coast. Jews had a rich tradition of illuminated Ketubot - the Jewish Wedding contracts- that is still alive in our days. The book includes articles on Ketuba art in the Jewish world in general and in Mogador in particular, the history of the Mogador Jewish community, and traditional wedding customs.

The first chapter of this magnificent and trilingual book is dedicated to a poem written by Asher Knafo describing the old wedding customs preserved in Mogador, from the couple's first encounter, their engagement, the "henna" ceremony, the wedding and ending with the numerous festivities following the marriage. The chapter dealing with Ketubot includes the history of the illuminated Ketuba in Mogador, along with biographies of the most famous illustrators who passed the art of illumination on to their descendants.

Then comes the beautiful collection of 83 ketubot with explanations in three languages; Hebrew, French and English. The oldest ketuba dates from 1789 and the most recent is from 2003.

The alphabetical index includes the wedding year and all the names mentioned in each ketuba: the names of the bride and groom often followed by those of their fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers and sometimes, even their great-great grandfathers and their great-great-great grandfathers, the witnesses, the ketuba designers, resulting in a total of more than 500 indexed names. For many of the ketubot, the index also points out the origin of the groom: if he is a descendent of the "Toshavim" (inhabitants in Hebrew) - those who already lived in Morocco when the expelled Jews from Spain landed in Morocco, and "Megorashim" (Expelled in Hebrew) those who, expelled from Spain, found refuge in Morocco. That unique tradition lasted till 1950 when a decision of the Rabbinical Court decided that the origin will not anymore be mentioned in a ketuba.

The only abbreviation used is b.=ben or bat= son of or daughter of.


We acknowledge the tremendous contributions and lifelong dedication of Mathilde Tagger, z"l who made this index available. For many years, and right until her untimely death, Mathilde Tagger was a very close friend and collaborator with Jeff Malka. Together they worked to promote Sephardic genealogy research and educate the public about its enormous potential.

In addition, we express our grateful appreciation to Dr. Jeff Malka for his monumental ongoing effort to collect and make accessible Sephardic genealogical information, and for his generosity in contributing his extraordinarily valuable collection to JewishGen.

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This collection can be searched by via the JewishGen Morocco Database, the JewishGen Jeff Malka Collection or the JewishGen Sephardic Collection

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