The Tunisian congregation is considered one of the oldest, including a glorious dynasty of priests who came to the island of Djerba and according to tradition brought with them one of the doors from the Temple around which they built the synagogue al-Griba, nicknamed the “Corridor to Jerusalem”.
For 2300 years the Jews in Tunisia lived a prosperous family and community life. But the community also suffered persecution, before and after the establishment of the State of Israel – from World War II when Nazi Germany seized power, to the desecration of the Great Synagogue in 1967, the murder of Jews in Djerba in 1982 and other riots.
Zionist activity increased towards the end of World War II. In Tunisia, several youth movements operated, such as “Torah & Avodah”, “Gordonia”, “Dror”, “Beitar” and others, which created the infrastructure for immigration to Israel and the contribution of the community to the establishment of our national home. Half of the community members left for France and half came to Israel to begin a new chapter, which glorifies the role of North African Jewry in the history of the country.
Today, several hundred Jews remain from the impressive community, most of them concentrated in Tunis and the island of Djerba.
Tunisian immigrants brought to Israel an optimistic tradition, customs and worldview that helped them integrate into the fabric of life here – through modesty and determination – in all areas of life, from the defense forces, through trade, agriculture, settlement to their famous cuisine. Their contribution to the Zionist vision is reflected in cities and moshavim throughout the country, especially in Jerusalem, Netivot, Be’er Sheva, Ofakim, Tlamim, Eitan, Zimrat, Gilat, Sharsheret, Beit Hagadi and Berechia.