Jews are said to have arrived in Djerba, off the coast of Tunisia, in 586 BCE, following the destruction of the First Temple. Tradition has it that they brought with them a stone from the destroyed edifice, on top of which was built the synagogue known as El-Ghriba, or “the wondrous.” Although the current structure is only a century or so old, there has been a synagogue on the site for more than two-and-a-half millennia.
Lag b’Omer — the 33rd day of the period between Passover and Shavuot — has served, since the 19th century, as a time for Jews from across the region (and, in more recent years, from Europe and Israel) to make a pilgrimage to the site. The festivities, which draw thousands, include a procession from El-Ghriba to other, smaller synagogues in the region. The procession has been said to symbolize the union of humankind and the divine.