- Jews in North Africa predate the arrival of Arabs and Islam. Jewish communities played prominent economic and political roles throughout the history of North Africa. One of the bestknown resistants to the Arab conquest in the seventh century was al-Kahina, who was the chief of a Judeo-Berber tribe, the Jerawa. After the Arab invasion, Jewish communities existed within Berber states and maintained relations with fellow Jews throughout North Africa and Spain. There was also an important Jewish cultural and commercial presence in cities such as Bijaia, Jerba, Sijilmassa, Tafilalet, Tahart, and Tlemcen. In the Drâa valley of southern Morocco, oral accounts suggest that in the pre-Islamic period and until 10th century A.D., Jewish Berber groups formed significant states in the region.Other accounts suggest that the Jewish presence in the Drâa valley may date to emigration caused by Nebuchadrezzar II's invasion of Palestine in 587 B.C. Based on this interpretation of history, Jews would have settled in the Middle Atlas starting around 361 B.C. In Morocco, until the middle of the 20th century, there were many Berber-speaking Jewish communities, and Berber was not only spoken but also written in a Hebraic script. Judeo-Berber was used in biblical translations and everyday life rituals, and it was the language of instruction and culture in many communities, such as Tiznit, Ouarzazat, Ufran, Illigh, and Demnat. After World War II, almost all the Berber-speaking Jewish communities either left to major urban centers or emigrated to Israel, France, and North America.
Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . Hsain Ilahiane. 2014.