The Knesset on Wednesday hosted its first-ever Mimouna celebration, welcoming hundreds of guests in a traditional Moroccan tent erected in the front plaza.
The festive custom, held the day after Passover, was brought to Israel by Moroccan Jews, with public celebrations starting in 1965.
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, who was born in Beersheva to Jewish immigrants from the North African country, initiated the first Knesset Mimouna, and spoke about its importance, particularly as the debate over judicial reform and the direction of the country rages on.
“We are all brothers, even if there are those who deny it. With all the burning disputes, we are all one nation,” said Ohana.
Guests who entered the tent decorated in traditional Morocco motifs were treated to tables of sweets and offered the opportunity to wear the caftan, a variant of a robe or tunic worn by Sephardic Jews in Morocco and other areas in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The Israeli-Moroccan-style rock band Satayim from Sderot played popular songs in Judeo-Moroccan Arabic with instruments including goblet drums, ouds and kamanchas. Ohana got on stage with the band to participate in the musical celebration.
“As a child, I always loved celebrating the Mimouna; the warmth, the sounds and the tastes. I am glad for the opportunity to bring to the Knesset building voices, sounds and colors that have not been there before,” Ohana said before the event.
“Opening the Knesset to the entire people of Israel on the Mimouna is a sign of fraternity within the people and shows that the Knesset is the home of all of Israel’s citizens. Tirbahu wa-tis’adu [‘Prosper and have good fortune’].”