Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Tiny Island in Tunisia in North Africa

The island named Djerba off the coast of Tunisia is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world.  Its synagogue., the oldest in North Africa, houses the oldest sefer Torah.   On the earth.  That exists anywhere.

Every year Jews pilgimmage there during the holiday of Lag Ba'Omer.  We just learned about this place that seems worlds apart from our cozy lives here in the U.S., and yet we are so connected.

And the population there?

Most of the Jews there are cohanim, descendants of the highest priestly tribe.  The ones who give you the famous "live long and prosper" blessing that Spock made famous on Star Trek (remember, Leonard Nimoy, too, is a cohane).  A whole community where literally all its Jews are cohanim? about holy stuff.  Our question is, when it comes time for duchening, who is sitting in the shul to receive the priestly blessing?

What is the big deal you might ask?


We recently met someone who's father's family came from this town.  The father was raised in Tzfat, one of more than ten children in his family.  For anyone who knows about the town of Tzfat, this is the epicenter of the development of kabbalah.  Many of our great mystics learned there, and many are still drawn to the town's deep spiritual roots.

Deep stuff.  Deep, deep stuff.