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Organisers of Jewish pilgrimage in Tunisia cancel annual celebrations over Gaza

April 19, 2024 at 8:20 pm

Jews from Tunisia and from different countries of the world participate in an annual Jewish pilgrimage to the El Ghriba Synagogue, which is considered one of the oldest Jewish places of worship in Africa and has a history of approximately 2400 years in Djerba Island, Tunisia on May 07, 2023. [Tasnim Nasri – Anadolu Agency]

An annual Jewish pilgrimage to Tunisia’s Djerba synagogue and celebration has been cancelled due to the war in Gaza, the head of the organising committee, Perez Trabelsi, told Reuters on Friday.

Trabelsi added that the committee has reduced the annual pilgrimage to limited rituals only inside the temple, and expects a very small number to arrive from France due to the tense situation in the Middle East.

“How do we celebrate when people die every day?” he said.

The southern island of Djerba – a holiday destination – is home to Africa’s oldest synagogue and the annual pilgrimage attracts thousands of Jews annually who come from Israel and several European countries.

Mainly Muslim Tunisia is home to one of North Africa’s largest Jewish communities. Although they now number fewer than 1,800 people, Jews have lived in Tunisia since Roman times.

This year’s Jewish pilgrimage is scheduled to take place at the end of May.

READ: UNESCO designates Djerba, Tunisia as World Heritage Site