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Djerba synagogue pilgrimage sees low turnout over security concerns

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A small group of faithful participants attended the first day of the Jewish pilgrimage to the Djerba synagogue in Tunisia on Friday.

Interior view of the historic El Ghriba synagogue © Mena Today 

A small group of faithful participants attended the first day of the Jewish pilgrimage to the Djerba synagogue in Tunisia on Friday.

This year, the ceremonies have been drastically reduced due to heightened security concerns stemming from the ongoing war in Gaza.

Normally, thousands of pilgrims from around the world, especially from Europe and the United States, flock to the Ghriba, the oldest synagogue in Africa, for three days of festivities marked by several processions.

This year, the ceremonies will be limited to religious rituals (prayers and candle lighting), without the festive procession behind the large Menorah, the Jewish candelabrum, mounted on wheels and decorated with colorful fabrics.

The Ghriba synagogue – whose construction dates back to the 6th century BC – was targeted in 2002 by a suicide truck bombing that killed 21 people.

Tunisia is a staunch supporter of the Palestinians, and its president, Kais Saied, has denounced an ongoing “genocide” in the Gaza Strip.

Before independence in 1956, Tunisia had over 100,000 Jews, a community now reduced to about 1,500 members, the vast majority of whom live in Djerba.

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