Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Let Them Eat Cake": May Day in Haifa and the Mimouna

This year the Jewish calendar is playing tricks and the Mimouna, the North African Jewish celebration which marks the end of Passover, happened on May Day, the International Workers’ Day. This coincidence is too symbolic to ignore, and it is hard not to acknowledge  the prosperity of the former and the demise of the latter.
Growing up in Haifa, the workers’ town, or as some call it “Red Haifa,” I got to participate in many May Day celebrations, and parades. Haifa (and its surrounding towns), is a major industrial center and workers, both Jewish and Arabs, have always been a high percent of the population. Thus May Day used to be a significant day for Haifa, and we all took part in the activities.
I read today that in 1984 (7 years after Menachem Begin came to power) Haifa held its last official May Day. About 100,000 people attended the celebrations, and dignitaries like Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin were present.
I wonder if May Day had to disappear in order to make room for the Mimouna. Throughout the years this tradition was has been promoted and used by politicians, and gained popularity and prominence in Israeli society. However,  it doesn’t mean that North African Jews, especially in the peripheral towns are as prominent as well.
Please keep reading in the Times of Israel

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