Pictures of a Tunisian Jewish Community on the Eve of a Massacre

May 23, 2023 | Skyler Dahan and Erin Clare Brown
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On May 8, a jihadist opened fire at the historic Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba—as it was flooded with pilgrims who had come to celebrate the Lag ba’Omer holiday—killing four. Skyler Dahan was present at the synagogue not long before the attack; some of his photographs of the festivities can be found at the link below. In her introduction to the pictorial essay, Erin Clare Brown writes:

“Are you Jewish?” the armed guard at the checkpoint leading up to el-Ghriba asked Dahan when he arrived for the first [day] of a two-day celebration. “It was a weird moment, when you’re being asked that question in an Arab country,” he said, but something about the tight controls felt comforting, a buffer against the outside world.

From the kitchen, . . . smells lured in revelers for refreshment, mostly in the form of brik—a shatteringly thin fried pastry shell filled with a silky, barely cooked egg, tuna, capers, and potatoes. Brik after brik was turned out from great pans of oil, while massive pots of chraime, a slow-simmered fish stew made by Djerban Jews for the Sabbath, bubbled away on the back burners in preparation for the evening meal.

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