El Ghriba Synagogue
El Ghriba is a prominent synagogue on the small island of Djerba in northern Tunisia. The island boasts a small but historically rich Jewish community that has lived in Tunisia for 2,500 years. Although the current building dates from the nineteenth century, El Ghriba is sometimes cited as North Africa’s oldest synagogue, with tradition tracing its origins to exiles fleeing the destruction of the first Temple of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. The Jewish community in Djerba has generally maintained a peaceful relationship with Tunisia’s government and broader Muslim society. After the 1967 Six Day War, Tunisia witnessed anti-Semitic riots, and several synagogues were burned or looted. President Habib Bourguiba quickly condemned the riots and issued a public apology to Tunisia’s chief rabbi. In 2002 the synagogue was damaged in a terrorist attack, perpetrated by a German Muslim tied to Al-Qaeda. Despite the attacks, El Ghriba remains a key pilgrimage site for Jews from around the world.