Moroccan Mimuna party on tap

Mimuna is a traditional North African Jewish celebration held the day after Passover, marking the start of spring and the return to eating chametz ( leavened goods). Temple Emanu-El and the Weintraub Israel Center will hold a Mimuna celebration on Saturday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El. The party will include music, belly dancing by Jessica Walker and Belly Dance Tucson, and Moroccan Jewish desserts.

Guy Gelbart, director of the Weintraub Israel Center, explains that originally, in North Africa, Jewish members of the community avoided eating at each other’s homes during Passover due to different degrees of kosher observance. The tradition of Mimuna, he says, was started “to show that we are still friends, still one community.” Some believe the source of the name is Maimon, the father of the Rambam, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, and the Mimuna marks the date of either his birth or death, Gelbart notes.

Jewish immigrants from North Africa brought the Mimuna with them to Israel, and in 1966 it became a national holiday. Today, Israelis celebrate the Mimuna with outdoor parties, picnics and barbecues, including a lavish spread of holiday cakes and sweets.

Admission is $10 for Temple and Tucson Jewish Community Center members, $12 general admission in advance, $15 at the door; students with ID $5; children under 13 free. To RSVP, call Temple Emanu-El at 327-4501.