Tunisian Minister of Tourism Amel Karboul (C-R) walking with Perez Trabelsi (C-L), President of the Jewish community of Djerba, inside the Ghriba synagogue on the Mediterranean resort island of Djerba on May 18, 2014. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID
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Despite years of security concerns and a harsh debate over Israeli passports, officials said Sunday the number of Jewish pilgrims taking part in an annual rite in Tunisia is up dramatically for the first time in years.Rene Trabelsi, who helps organize the trek to the Ghriba synagogue, Africa's oldest, said 2,000 people, including 1,000 from abroad, took part in the three-day pilgrimage ending Sunday.In 2002, al-Qaida militants set off a truck bomb near the synagogue, killing 21 people, mostly German tourists -- and badly jolting the now-tiny Jewish communityJews have been living in Djerba since 500 B.C. The Jewish population has shrunk to 1,500, down from 100,000 in the 1960s.
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