It was bound to be a bizarre experience for me. Instead of rolling through my modest Brooklyn neighborhood, I was going to the fancy Pierre Hotel to sit in a room full of New York City’s elite. If you are not accustomed to the rigors of society life, a tableau of rich folk dolled up for a night out is both intimidating and comic. The fact that the reception on the evening of December 13 was being given by the American Sephardic Foundation in honor of King Mohammed VI of Morocco only added layers to the strangeness of my situation.
Distinguished guest after distinguished guest stood at the podium as wine was poured for the assembled party, and effusive words were spoken in praise of King Mohammed. There was a definite charm, even a relief, in hearing a room full of Jews applauding a Muslim monarch and paying homage to his wisdom and beneficence to the Jewish community. The evening had a feeling of the middle ages: the era of court Jews and royal indulgences. The King’s award was accepted by Serge Berdugo, an ambassador and a descendant of a family of Jewish royal advisors to the Moroccan throne.