Tunisian Jewish pilgrimage scaled back amid security fears

The annual Jewish pilgrimage on Tunisia’s island of Djerba will be limited amid security concerns sparked by the war in Gaza and a deadly attack last year.

The pilgrimage to the Ghriba synagogue, Africa’s oldest, usually involves days-long festivities in the presence of thousands of pilgrims. It marks the Lag B’Omer festival, which begins 33 days after the start of Passover.

But this year’s pilgrimage on the resort island, set for May 24 to 26, is expected to draw fewer visitors amid the backdrop of the war between Israel and Hamas, and last year’s terror attack in which five people were killed.

“The pilgrimage is not canceled,” an organizer said speaking on condition of anonymity. But “everything will take place inside the synagogue.”

The organizer said the pilgrimage will be limited to prayers inside the synagogue, and the lighting of candles.

“Given the current international context, security will also be tightened after what happened last year,” the organizer added.

This year’s pilgrimage will not include activities such as the open-air parade carrying the synagogue’s menorah.

Organizers say more than 5,000 people, mostly from abroad, joined last year’s pilgrimage. Up to 8,000 pilgrims attended in previous years.

The pilgrimage is at the heart of Jewish tradition in Tunisia, where only about 1,500 members of the faith still live — mainly on Djerba.

According to the Djerba community, Jews have lived there since at least the dawn of the first millennium CE, making it one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world.


Subscribe to the EJC newsletter

Get the EJC newsletter, including the latest statements and news from the European Jewish communities, direct to your inbox.

European Jewish Congress will use the information you provide on this form to contact you. We will treat your information with respect and will not share it with others. By clicking Subscribe, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

browse by community