Rabbi Chaim Pinto: History, Synagogue and Hillula

From the creation of the city of Essaouira, a Jewish community was present. Many of the Jewish inhabitants of the city made its reputation. Among them Rabbi Haim Pinto רב חיים פינטו (1743-1845).On his Hillula day, thousands of Jews come to gather there to celebrate his memory. 

Rabbi Chaim Pinto: History, Synagogue and Hillula

  • Last update: March 17, 2023, 5:03 p.m.


The Story Of Rabbi Chaim Pinto

Chaim Pinto Synagogue

Hilloula Of Rabbi Chaim Pinto In Essaouira

The Story Of Rabbi Chaim Pinto

Portrait Of Chaim Pinto

Portrait Of Chaim Pinto

Rabbi Chaim Pinto was born in Agadir in 1749. He descended from a large family of Sephardic rabbis. 

At the age of 12, he became an orphan. In the same year, an earthquake destroyed the city of Agadir. Among the refugees who arrived in Essaouira was the young Chaim.

The young Chaim moved in with Rabbi Meir Pinto, a close relative of his family. He studied Torah with Rabbi Yaacov Bibas. Chaim's new master was the Dayan (head of the rabbinical court) of Mogador. 

When he was eighteen, his master Yaacov Bibas died. The Jewish community of Essaouira appointed Chaim to become the Dayan (judge) of the city. 

Despite his young age, Rabbi Chaim Pinto built an eminent reputation. His name went beyond the city. He was considered a saint among Jews and Muslims. His fifth descendant, Rabbi David Pinto, recounted the miracles accomplished by his grandfather.

Chief Rabbi David Pinto On Right King Mohammed VI and Joseph Israel, Chief Rabbi of Casablanca

Chief Rabbi David Pinto On Right King Mohammed

Rabbi Chaim Pinto had four sons: Rabbi Yosef, Rabbi Yochiahu, Rabbi Yehuda, and Rabbi Yaacov. All were great tzadikim (righteous men in Hebrew). After a long life dedicated to the service of religion, Rabbi Chaim Pinto died in 1845 at the age of 96.

Chaim Pinto Synagogue

Rabbi Haim Pinto built this synagogue, initially, as a home. The building served also as a place of worship and teaching of the Torah. 

Today, Chaim Pinto Synagogue is one of the few surviving Jewish sites in Essaouira.

You will find this Sephardic synagogue, in the Mellah of Essaouira, near the ramparts. This extraordinary building, organized vertically, is very calm and relaxing. On the ground the rabbi's house, and on the first floor, the tiny blue synagogue. And above all, don't miss the view from the room upstairs. 

Hillula Of Rabbi Chaim Pinto In Essaouira

The Hilula in Hebrew-Aramaic הילולא is a feminine noun formed from the root הלל. The primary meaning is to cry out with joy and fear. 

The Hilula is a Jewish custom consisting of going to the tombs of tzaddikim on the anniversary of their death. During the Hilula, pilgrims read sacred texts to commemorate their memory.

Mausoleum of Rabbi Haim Pinto

Mausoleum of Rabbi Haim Pinto

The Hillula of Rabbi Chaim Pinto is the anniversary of his death. It is one of the most popular Hiloulot in North Africa. 

Each year, nearly 1.500 pilgrims gather in Essaouira to pay homage to the Rabbi.

Every year, the Synagogue of Chaim Pinto and the mausoleum in the old Jewish cemetery of Essaouira host the rituals.


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