The head of the Shuvu Yisrael Institute, Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, was crowned by representatives of the King of Morocco as the Chief Rabbi of the Muslim State. In a traditional ceremony held in the city of Rabat, the capital of Morocco, with the participation of representatives of the Jewish community, the rabbi was dressed in the traditional religious garb.
Over the past few years the rabbi has visited Morocco several times, delivering Shiurim and giving Chizuk to the Jewish community, as well as addressing Kashrus issues. Rabbi Pinto also met with members of the royal family, who were reportedly impressed with his rabbinical lineage.
Rabbi Pinto’s father, HaRav Chaim Pinto, serves as rav of Ashdod and Kiryat Malachi and has maintained a connection with the royal family in Morocco over the past decades.
Rabbi Pinto replaces the late HaGaon HaRav Aharon Monsonego ZT”L, who was niftar on 26 Menachem Av last year. Due to his wife’s illness, as well as his own, Rav Monsonego moved to Israel about a decade ago, leaving a void in Morocco.
In 1948, on the eve of the War of Independence, there were about 265,000 Jews living in Morocco, and it was the largest Jewish community in North Africa. Pogroms began that same year and there were various attacks on the Jews of Morocco, following which about 67,000 Jews left. From the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 until 1967, more than 250,000 members of Moroccan Jewry emigrated to the State of Israel. Many others emigrated to France and North America. Today, only 2,500 Jews live in Morocco, most of them in Casablanca, a remnant of this large community.