Thousands of Jews began performing religious services on Friday morning at the Temple of Ghriba Synagogue, in the Tunisian island of Djerba.
This annual religious event is of great importance to Tunisian and foreign Jews, and it has also started to attract the attention of Tunisian Muslims.
Jews perform rituals and worship for three days – one of their most important religious celebrations – in the most important synagogue in North Africa, where they believe to have one of the oldest versions of the Torah in Tunisia.
Reading of the sacred books
They begin their ritual with a small religious ceremony for ‘Mir’, a Jewish priest who for hundreds of years has been interested in preserving the doctrines of the religion, by reading three sacred Jewish books: the Talmud, the Torah and other Jewish sacred writings.
On the second day, the Jews perform their prayers and continue to read the Torah. They write their personal wishes on eggshells and place them in a small cave located in the small sanctum of the synagogue. According to legend, all the wishes written on the eggshells ome true.
During prayer, women and men are separated, both men and women keep their heads covered and they wear modest clothing.
The same evening, the Jews come out of the synagogue and together they push a small cart decorated with a large silver lamp and take out a procession till the next neighborhood, amid songs and hymns, before going back.
The final and third day is called the day of ‘Lord Shimon’ - one of the senior Jewish priests. Devotees resort to him in order to seek blessings and to ask God for forgiveness, and people pray for him and light candles.
In the evening, Tunisian traditional music celebrations are held, during which financial donations will be collected for the temple, and the Bouja wine (a drink made by the Jews of Tunisia from figs) is presented to the visitors and which is believed to have healing and blessing effects.
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