Rabbi Joshua Pinto, the President of the “Shuva Israel” institutions, was appointed to the post of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in a formal ceremony at the Synagogue House, the official synagogue in Casablanca, the position which was vacant for 100 years. Hundreds of participants attended, including heads of Moroccan Jewish communities, 50 senior government officials and regional governors, as well as senior Moroccan military and police officials. Among the royal representatives who appointed Rabbi Bento as the Moroccan Special Envoy to the event, Mr. Serge Bardougou – former Minister of Tourism and head of the Jewish community in Morocco, and the representative of the Kingdom – the governor of Casablanca.
The 45-year old Israeli-born Rabbi Pinto is a great-grandson of Chaim Pinto, a venerated Moroccan rabbi. On his mother’s side he is the great-grandson of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, known as the Baba Sali, a renowned Moroccan
rabbi who served the Israeli Moroccan
community for decades. The Baba Sali’s grave-site in Netivot attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year.Pinto’s business ventures and charismatic personalty made him a sought-after sage for both politicians and celebrities in Israel and the United States. His business dealings also landed him in legal trouble. He was convicted of attempted bribery in a plea bargain in 2016 and served one year in prison.
Morocco today is home to some 10,000 Jews, living mostly in Casablanca and in smaller numbers in the capital Rabat, in Agadir
Meknes and Fez. So far Morocco is the only Muslim country to appoint a rabbi to the post of Supreme Chief Rabbinical Court Master on behalf of the King. In this role rabbi Pinto will be at the head of the Moroccan Jewry’s Kashrut operation and will be providing solutions for the religious and customary issues of the local Jews, as well as for the approximately 100,000 Jews that visit Morocco every year. Furthermore, Rabbi Pinto will be given a judge’s seat in the Supreme Court and Senior Diplomat status.
Jews make up the largest group of Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews in Israel and second largest ethnic Jewish group behind Polish Jews in the country.
In his speech, the Rabbi mentioned the state of his health and prayed for success in his new role. “We are infirm and do not feel well and we pray in pain to the Lord to give us a long life in order to succeed in our mission and to enable us to please our Father in Heaven”.
The Rabbi thanked his brother Menachem Pinto, who has worked tirelessly over the last months and attended to all the proceedings for his appointment, helped in preparing the ceremony and cared for the community. He also thanked Joe Ben Amo, a member of the Community Executive, and to the senior government officials for their support of the Jewish community in Morocco. Rabbi Pinto also praised King Mohammed the Sixth’s efforts and work, and his “mercy” and “benevolence” toward the people in Morocco. In the midst of the ceremony, a special prayer was held for the King’s success and well-being.
Following his new appointment, Rabbi Pinto will be dividing his time between Morocco and his duties in the “Shuva Israel” institutions in Israel, New York, France, England and other places around the world.