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Celebrating Mimouna in Sun Valley
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Sunday, May 7, 2023
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Selma Parvin never dreamed she would find a bit of Marrakesh in Sun Valley.

But this week the Moroccan-born Sun Valley resident found herself making dozens of Moroccan almond and walnut cookies for a Moroccan festival known as Mimouna.

The festival was organized by Stav Ohayon, who is spending a year in service of the Wood River Jewish Community.

Ohayon is from Israel, but her family shares a Moroccan heritage and so she spent hours baking  Moroccan donuts and other pastries to introduce the festival to the Jewish community in Sun Valley.

She and Parvin, aided by Parvin’s husband Stanley and Monique Stern, laid out a table filled with various types of baklava, macaroons, sesame cookies rolled in honey, chocolate covered pretzels and other goodies underneath a bouquet of wheat stalks.

Gummi fish took the place of live fish in bowls, symbolizing birth and fertility.

There were the mandatory stuffed dates and there were the mandatory mouflettas--thin tortilla-style pancakes fried in oil, slathered in honey and rolled up like cigars.

“After Passover, all of this is to make life sweet,” said Selma Parvin. “It’s a joyous celebration about blessings and sweets.”

Mimouna is considered by many to be derived from the Arabic word for wealth and good fortune. Others say it comes from the Israeli word “Emunah,” which means faith or belief in Israel’s redemption. It speaks to the crossing of the Red Sea, which took on place on the last day of the Passover.

It was at the crossing of the Red Sea that the Hebrews witnessed the awesome power and might of God—an experience that strengthened their faith, according to Ohayon.

Mimouna started in North Africa as a 24-hour post-Passover celebration of friendship and brotherhood. There they fill up their tables not with meats and salads but with sweets. The pastries represent a return to leavened bread after the conclusion of the multi-day Passover, during which only unleavened bread, usually represented by matzah crackers, can be eaten.

The unleavened bread reminds the Jewish people that the Hebrews escaping bondage in Egypt did not have time for bread to rise so they made it without leaven, or yeast.

After Jewish immigrants moved to Israel from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, they continued to celebrate Mimouna with their families. And in 1966 it was adopted as a national holiday.

Those celebrating open their homes to any and all visitors moments after Passover formally ends, greeting one another with the words “tirbah u’tissad,” which means, “May you prosper and succeed.”

“It’s a lovely celebration,” said Parvin.

 

 

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