Hundreds of pilgrims flocked on Wednesday to the Ghriba synagogue on the Mediterranean island of Djerba where one of the last Jewish communities in the Arab world is still living there and seize the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the oldest synagogue to voice their wish for blessing.
Senior officials from Tunisia joined the Ghriba festivities which coincides this year with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan for the first time since 1987.
On May 22 and 23, 2019, the Ghriba synagogue hosted nearly 7,000 tourists from various European countries, in addition to the Jewish community living in Djerba.
“This year, the Jewish pilgrimage coincides with the month of Ramadan, symbolising the tolerance and peaceful coexistence that prevails between the different communities on the island of Djerba,” said Perez Trabelsi President of the Ghriba Association in Djerba island.
A fast-breaking meal is shared by Muslims and Jews on this occasion in Djerba’s Ghriba.
Trabelsi welcomed the presence of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, ambassadors of foreign countries and several political figures at the start of this Jewish religious festival which runs until May 23.
“This is Tunisia we are looking for: Tunisia of tolerance, cohabitation and solidarity and a land of peace for the past 3,000 years. It is the ultimate message conveyed through this occasion,” Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on Wednesday in Djerba during his participation in festivities of the annual Ghriba pilgrimage.
In turn, US Ambassador in Tunis Donald Blome said, as he attended the opening of the annual Jewish pilgrimage of El Ghriba, that the celebration of this event, which coincides this year with the month of Ramadan, “constitutes a celebration of religious pluralism and a fine example of tolerance and mutual respect.
Tunisia sets a good example for the region in the treatment of its Jewish citizens, he said, recalling that Jews in Djerba are deeply rooted in the city and preserve their culture and religious rites in a country where all citizens are treated equally, regardless of their religion.
Businessmen participating in the annual Ghriba pilgrimage to Djerba are invited to invest in Tunisia, in order to contribute to improving the situation in the country, said Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts, René Trabelsi.
As the pilgrimage to the Ghriba Synagogue starts, the Minister said that Tunisia has managed to overcome great difficulties, thanks to its domestic and foreign policy, as well as its efforts in the field of security.
He said that this year’s Ghriba pilgrimage was marked by the presence of eminent personalities, known for their support for Tunisia, a country that has sent deep messages of coexistence and tolerance between religions.