Muhammad and Matt are asked to leave the men’s section of the Synagogue because they are not Jewish. Several of the congregants are unhappy with this decision, which was made without consultation. Alma, a Fulbrighter researching Jewish History in Morocco, had invited several friends to attend Rosh Hashanah services. Save for a young couple from Paris, the other dozen congregants are at least 60 and speak to each other exclusively in French. Most of them ignore us.
During a break in prayer the elderly gentlemen to my left asks where I studied in the States. I tell him that I graduated from Georgetown and he corrects me, asking if I meant the “University on the banks of the Potomac.” Not wanting to offend my only friend, I acknowledge my mistake and add that I majored in International Politics. He chuckles, pats my back, and reassures me, “It’s OK. You still have time.” I decide it’s best to not to mention that in addition to be hopelessly naïve and idealistic in the realm of foreign policy, I’m also spending a year in Morocco playing drums with the descendants of sub-Saharan slaves.
As services end a scuffle breaks out between congregants regarding the forced departure of Matt and Muhammad. The quarreling men are separated as the call to prayer fills the room from a loudspeaker outside.