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April 22, 2020 11:54 am
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Coronavirus Nixes Annual Lag B’Omer Pilgrimage of Jews to Tunisian Island of Djerba

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Tunisian Jews and Muslims attend a ceremony at Ghriba, the oldest Jewish synagogue in Africa, during an annual pilgrimage in Djerba, Tunisia, May 2, 2018. Picture taken May 2, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Ahmed Jadallah.

The annual pilgrimage of Tunisian Jews to mark the Lag B’Omer festival which falls 33 days after the end of Passover has been cancelled amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

Perez Trabelsi — president of the Jewish community at the Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba, where the pilgrimage takes place — confirmed on Tuesday that this year’s pilgrimage, which had been scheduled from May 7-13, would not now take place.

“We will only reopen the synagogue once the danger of the virus has passed,” Trabelsi told the AFP news agency.

He stressed that Tunisia’s Jewish community would follow government advice concerning the reopening of places of worship.

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The onset of the coronavirus in Tunisia, where 38 people have died and nearly 900 have been infected, led to the closure of all mosques and the suspension of collective worship by the Ministry of Religious Affairs last month.

About 1,500 Jews still live on the Tunisian island of Djerba, joined each year by thousands of Jewish pilgrims who travel from Europe, Israel and North America for the Lag B’Omer celebrations.

The festivities were last canceled in 2011, during a period of major political upheaval in the North African country.

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