Moroccan-style post-Pesach Mimuna party planned

The Weintraub Israel Center and Temple Emanu-El will present an Israeli-Moroccan Mimuna celebration on April 26.

A traditional North African Jewish celebration held at the end of Passover, Mimuna marks the start of spring and the return to eating chametz (leavened goods), explains Guy Gelbart, director of the Weintraub Israel Center.

One version of the festival’s origins maintains that due to different degrees of kosher observance, Moroccan Jew avoided eating at each other’s homes during Passover. The Mimuna celebration was an affirmation of continuing friendship. Another version says that Muslims would return yeast and baked goods to their Jewish neighbors after sundown on the last day of Passover.

Some believe the holiday’s name comes from Maimon, the father of the Rambam, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, and that Mimuna marks the date of his birth or death.

In Israel, Mimuna has nearly become a national holiday, adopted by other ethnic groups, and often features outdoor parties, picnics and barbecues.

It is a tradition to set out a lavish spread of holiday cakes and sweetmeats. One of the holiday favorites is mofletta, a sweet type of pita. The table is also laid with various symbols of luck and fertility.

Tucson’s Mimuna celebration will be held on April 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Temple Emanu- El and will include a drumming circle. There will be a craft project for children, who can make a traditional Hamsa, a hand figure that symbolizes luck.

Tickets are $10 in advance for Temple Emanu-El/JCC members, $12 for nonmembers, or $15 at the door. Students, $5; children 12 and under, free. Register at www.jewishtucson.org or call Tremia Cox at 577-9393, ext.133.