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Fertility of the community, the land and the family is fundamental in traditional Moroccan Judaism. In Judaism, the womb and its fertility for the continuity of the community, is considered to be an etz hayim, a tree of life. The three agricultural holidays of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot have paraliturgical songs sung in Judeo-Arabic and Judeo-Spanish in the synagogue and to women’s melodies, expressing a liturgical opening to women’s voices during the calendar’s communal and agricultural pilgrimages. Young couples, and women during child bearing age especially, hold the keys to the continuity of traditions, beliefs and family lines. That is why rituals around the wedding and the birth of a child often enhance and celebrate fertility encouraging younger generations to have families. As a minority community, continuity is of utmost importance. Songs by post-menopausal women are sung to childbearing-age women so the blessing of the ancestors is embodied in the next generation.



Controlling women’s fertility in patriarchal societies has only allowed women to fulfil roles that serve the patriarchal communal structure, most often reducing individuality and obliterating professional opportunities. Fertility plays a crucial part in political and economic power, providing a larger demography, which impacts economic opportunity and political presence, all fundamental aspects of hierarchical patriarchal societies. Consequently, the difficulty in reconciling the professional and the personal aspects of women’s lives has been one of the main impetuses for the massive emigration of Moroccans towards Europe, the Americas and Israel.

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