Sunday, May 02, 2010

Nearly 6,000 Jews perform al-Ghriba pilgrimage

Nearly 6,000 Jews, including the chief rabbi of France, came on the Lag La'omer pilgrimage to the al-Ghriba synagogue on Djerba this weekend - the highest number in recent years. Some 1,000 Jews came from Israel via Egypt, Turkey or Jordan, but even more would have come if there had been direct flights to Tunisia. Ynet News has the story:

Thousands of Jews on Friday began an annual pilgrimage to Africa's oldest synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba.

"We have nearly 6,000 visitors this year," Perez Trabelsi, head of the Djerba Jewish community and president of the synagogue, told AFP.

Most of the pilgrims - around 4,500 - came from France, while around 1,000 Israelis came via Egypt, Jordan or Turkey due to the absence of direct air links with Israel.

Trabelsi called for direct flights to be established between Israel and Tunisia, adding that it would triple the number of visitors coming from Israel.

Rabbi Gilles Bernheim gives his speech (Photo: AFP)

France's chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim would take part in the pilgrimage for the first time this year "in order to give a message of peace (and) of respect for others.

"I am very moved and very impressed by the Jews' way of life in Tunisia and their strict attachment to an ancient tradition," Bernheim told AFP.

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