Jewish Pilgrimage to Synagogue in Arab Country Sends Message of Tolerance and Reconciliation

June 8, 2005

Source: The Washington Times

On June 8, 2005 The Washington Times reported, "They came from three continents to the festival of El Ghriba, one of Judaism's oldest synagogues, which has survived wars, pirate raids and a terrorist attack three years ago by an al Qaeda fanatic. 'El Ghriba has always been miraculous,' a bearded patriarch in a flowing robe explained amid the chant of Talmudic prayers in the synagogue, which has been shrouded by legend and mystery since biblical days. This year, with 4,000 Jewish pilgrims in an Arab country, El Ghriba and Tunisia are sending a message of 'brotherhood, tolerance and reconciliation' transcending international politics. Although the survival of the synagogue is not in doubt, Tunisia's ancient Jewish community has shrunk from 120,000 in 1948 to 1,000 on the island of Djerba and a few in Tunis. Yet Dr. Gabriel Kabla, a Djerba-born Jewish activist living in Paris, said, 'We were here before the Bible. There isn't a square meter of Tunisia which has not been marked by Judaism.'"