Tunis, Tunisia – (African Boulevard News) – Thousands of Jewish pilgrims have gathered at Tunisia’s Ghriba synagogue in the southern island of Djerba for an annual celebration of their faith. This year, Tunisia hopes to attract at least 7,000 worshippers to the site, an increase from the 4,000 who participated in 2022.
The Ghriba synagogue, considered the oldest in Africa, is a popular destination for Jewish pilgrims who come from around the world to pray and seek blessings. It is believed that the site has been a place of pilgrimage for more than 2,000 years, with some evidence suggesting that it was built by Jewish exiles fleeing the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem.
The three-day pilgrimage, which began on Wednesday, includes rituals such as lighting candles and visiting the tombs of Jewish saints. The participants also make offerings of wax candles, silver coins, and eggs, which are believed to have healing powers.
“The pilgrimage to Ghriba is a unique experience. It’s a form of our Jewish identity and our way of showing our faith in God,” said David, a French-Jewish pilgrim who has been visiting Ghriba for the past ten years.
The annual celebration of Jewish heritage in Tunisia is a testament to the country’s rich history and cultural diversity. Tunisia is home to a small Jewish community of around 1,500, which has been living peacefully with its Muslim neighbors for centuries.
“The pilgrimage to Ghriba is a symbol of the coexistence between Jews and Muslims in Tunisia. For us, it’s a source of pride,” said Samir Dilou, a Tunisian lawyer and former government minister.
The Tunisian government has been working to promote the pilgrimage as a major tourist attraction, hoping to boost its tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has provided additional security measures to ensure the safety of the worshippers and to encourage more people to participate.
“We are very pleased to see so many people coming to Tunisia to celebrate this important event. The Ghriba synagogue is a symbol of our shared history and heritage,” said Mehdi Ben Gharbia, Tunisia’s Minister of Tourism.
The annual pilgrimage to Ghriba is a testament to the enduring power of faith and the resilience of Tunisia’s diverse cultural traditions. As the country continues to navigate the challenges of the 21st century, this celebration of Jewish heritage serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving our shared history and promoting mutual understanding between different communities.