Hundreds of Jewish worshippers flocked to Africa’s oldest synagogue in Tunisia on Wednesday, reviving an annual pilgrimage after a two-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pilgrims handed by means of airport-style scanners and handed a heavy, armed police guard to enter the whitewashed Ghriba synagogue on the southern Tunisian resort island of Djerba.
Inside, they lit candles, prayed and handed one another sweets and nuts.
Many took pictures and filmed family and mates contained in the intricately embellished synagogue.
Others sat praying or studying scripture on their very own, earlier than leaving with their family and friends.
Solange Azzouz, 75, who was born in Tunis however has lived in Marseille, France for 58 years, stated she had “lots of emotion.”
“My father was from Djerba and for him the pilgrimage was very important,” she stated. “As I get older I appreciate it more and more.”
She wore a brightly coloured silk shirt and pearls as she stood exterior within the warmth.
The pilgrimage marks the Lag BaOmer festival, which begins 33 days after the beginning of the Jewish Passover.
Djerba is dwelling to one of many final Jewish communities within the Arab world, and the synagogue is believed to this point to the sixth century BC.
The group remains to be recovering from a suicide bombing claimed by al-Qaeda on the synagogue in 2002 that killed 21 individuals.
Before that, some 8,000 pilgrims used to journey to Djerba for the annual celebration.
The quantity plunged afterwards however had since recovered considerably – till the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Last yr a pilgrimage was held however with a lot lowered numbers and strict sanitary situations.
Moroccan-born Paris resident Adi Wizman Nicodeme, 74, stated he was on the pilgrimage for the primary time on the invitation of a good friend.
“For me it was important to come and get to know the place,” he stated. “I’m a professor of Judaism and Hebrew. My friends and students have told me about this place.”
“After more than two years of closure it was important to be able to come. I hope we’ve reached the end of this pandemic which was so difficult for the entire world.”