Tunisia: Ghriba Synagogue to Receive Pilgrims After Pandemic Hiatus

by | Apr 30, 2023 | Security, Social, Tunisia


From 4 to 9 May 2023, the island of Djerba in southern Tunisia will receive more than seven thousand Jewish pilgrims who will visit the al Ghriba Synagogue. Tunisia’s Jewish population, estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,500 will more than triple during the festival.

Leaders from Tunisia’s Jewish community, much of which is concentrated on the island of Djerba, reportedly expect as much as a 40% increase in the number of pilgrims from past years. The yearly festival and pilgrimage has not been held in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The Ghriba Synagogue is thought to be the oldest synagogue in the world in continuous use.

In April 2002, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) was detonated outside of the al Ghriba Synagogue, killing 21 people. The VBIED attack was eventually claimed by al Qaida. 

Since that time, a high level of security has been maintained at the site, with a particular focus during the yearly pilgrimage and festival.


The resumption of the yearly pilgrimage is an important step for Tunisia’s Jewish community, which has historically benefited economically from the influx of Jewish pilgrims. More broadly, it is an important step for Tunisian’s tourism sector as it recovers from the painful COVID-19 period during which tourism revenues dropped dramatically. 

The vast majority of Tunisians are proud of the diversity and inclusiveness on display in Djerba, where the Jewish community co-exists amicably in the predominantly Muslim community.


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