I really like this place. Djerba’s El Griba Synagogue is one of these most unusual and famous synagogues in the world. It was built at the 19th century, although its not particularly big.
The glass cabinet thing top right appears to have prayer requests similar to the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem.
The wooden bannister around the synagogue has some flowers attached to it. The blue and white stripes around the archways.
Things I learned about the Jewish community of Djerba:-
- Almost all Jewish men don’t seem to have beards
- You have to take your shoes off and wear a Kippur (if you are a man) when visiting the synagogue. Removal of shoes is common in Muslim religious places and in homes of east Asian countries such as Japan, but the first time I’ve seen in a Jewish community.
- There are groups of Israelis who come and visit here each year (more on that later and Israel and Tunisia relations)
- Many of the Jews have jewellery shops in Hamout Souk in the north part of Djerba, alongside Muslim jewellery shops. More soon.
- The men were singing prayers when I visited this place, later when I was reading an article elsewhere, I saw the face of the man I saw here, he comes and prays every single day.
- There is strict security to get into the synagogue following some terror attacks in the past, relatively rare, but two tragic incidents did happen.
- The garden at the back of the synagogue is quite pretty with a big olive tree, and several of these tall look-out posts.
- There are only approx 1,000 Jews left in Djerba, most families have 6-7 children, which means probably there’s a relatively small number of families who are quite big in number I think.
- You have to drop in 1 dinar (UK 30p) minimum to visit the Synagogue. Of course, it is closed to visitors on the Sabbath, as its a fully functioning house of worship as opposed to this one in Fez, Morocco which is beautifully restored but empty.
- There were some Muslim women who had come just to visit.
- There were very few visitors in the synagogue as I’m here in November so there were no more than 6-7 people there when I visited.
This is truly an amazing looking religious temple with a variety of colours, textures and character like no other.
1. Plans – 2. French Connection – 3. My hotel in Djerba – 4. El Griba synagogue outside – 5. El Griba synagogue inside – 6. Markets – 7. Christianity in Tunisia – 8. Ferry to mainland Tunisia – 9. Getting to Matmata, Tunisia – 10. Sidi Idris Hotel New Hope Star Wars filmset – 11. Secrets I learnt about the famous Matmata Star Wars set – 12. Cave homes for would-be Jedis – 13. More what you don’t see in Star Wars at Hotel Sidi Idris – 14. How hospitable is Sidi Idris? – 15. ATM machines and drought – 16. Matmata Nouvelle (New Matmata) – 17. Tunisian butchers and fisherman – 18. Libyan and Algerian neighbours – 19. Jewellery businesses in Djerba – 20. Tunisia and Israel relations – 21. Hara Kebira, Jewish school, soap and TV repair shops – 22. Jewish community of Hara Kebira – 23. Going home