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Scam – Ali’s Art Gallery, Fes Medina, Morocco – Jewish Berber Mezuzah.

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Ali’s Art Gallery, 17, Souiket Dahbane, Sagha Fes Medina, runs a scam on alleged Jewish artifacts – and we would assume on all the items in the gallery. Beware.

Ali’s Art Gallery, 17, Souiket Dahbane, Sagha Fes Medina, is different from the average medina stall. It is in a large house in the medina and appears to only contain high quality Moroccan artifacts and works of art. We were taken there by our licensed guide. We were introduced to the guide’s friend, allegedly the gallery owner’s son. He spoke excellent English and explained that this was a family business of many years and told us something of the house’s history. We were then steered toward a room that allegedly contained Judaic artifacts (he obviously knew that we were Jewish). In a very low-keyed manner he provided us with interesting information about several of the pieces. He told us a most interesting story. Jews as you may know are directed to place mezuzahs on their doorposts. Allegedly, there was a Berber-Jewish tribe that since they were nomadic had no doorposts so they wore the mezuzahs around their necks and around the necks of their camels. Intriguing story.

We looked at some of the alleged mezuzahs and asked the price for one of them. The artifact was weighed and a price given. When asked if this was the best price we were told that there was no bargaining in the gallery and that the works of art were all fairly priced. Again all very low keyed. When pressed about the story of the Berber Jews and their mezuzahs, the gallery sales person insisted that the artifacts were indeed old personal Berber mezuzahs and that there were prayers sealed inside. In fact, he stated that he would provide a bill of sale detailing the providence of the artifacts, again all low keyed in almost a disinterested manner.

The truthof the matter is that it was all a well-acted scam. Although there were Jewish Berbers, the artifacts were common pieces found all over the medina and there never were personal or camel mezuzahs.

During our travels in Morocco we related the incident to several well-regarded dealers in Moroccan artifacts. All confirmed that that the items were nothing more than common “gridgris” and that there were never mezuzahs as described in Ali’s.

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