DRA (Draa), river valley region in southern Morocco on the borders of the Sahara. Many well-known scholars have ethnic regional names such as Dar'i, Edrei, etc., meaning "from Dra." According to an ancient legend, Dra was an independent Jewish state which was overthrown in wars with the Christians. In the Middle Ages active communities in the region corresponded with the Babylonian geonim. The Jews of Dra were the first to suffer during the *Almohad persecutions. The geographer Yaqut (1179–1229) stated that most tradesmen in the Dra valley were Jews. Dra is a fertile area with gardens and date-palm groves and until the mid-1950s Jews owned land farmed by "haratin," descendants of black slaves. As late as 1930, there were mellahs in the villages of Tamnugalt, Qasbat al-Makhzan, Rabat-Tinzulin, Arumiyat, Mansuriya, Amzru, Alhammid, and Mhamid, containing about 500 families. Some Jewish notables participated in the political life of the region as delegates to the 'councils' which governed this Berber-Arab society.
J.M. Toledano, Ner ha-Ma'arav (1911), 13, 26, 47, 109–10; Villes et tribus du Maroc, 9 (1931), 94–95, 127, 178, 181; Hirschberg, Afrikah, 1 (1965), 90–91, 101, 236, 302; 2 (1965), 27; idem, Me-Ereẓ Mevo ha-Shemesh (1957), 105–13; Corcos, in: Sefunot, 10 (1966), 75–79.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.