Day By Day

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tunisia Trip -- Part Thirty Four

Our next stop was at the El Ghriba synagogue,

This is the residence where pilgrims who travel to the synagogue on the holiday of Lag BaOber can stay.

The synagogue itself is one of the oldest in the world (and claims to be the oldest, dating from the seventh century BC, although the date is disputed). It also supposedly contains the world's oldest Sefer Torah (again the claim is disputed). The current building dates from the 1920s.

In recent decades the synagogue has come under attack from radical Muslims. In 1985 on Simchat Torah one of the policemen guarding the site opened fire on the worshipers, killing three of them. Then in 2002 Al Qaeda claimed credit for a suicide car bombing there that killed twenty-one people. Understandably security at the site today is extremely tight.

Emerging from the dark interior back into the Tunisian sunlight we were reminded that we were surrounded on all sides by an Islamic state, the symbols of which were everywhere to be seen.

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