Michael Rogatchi (C). Psalms Country. 1991.

What people are thinking on Shabbat, Jewish  observing ones? A synagogue. Two weeks can feel like a quite long period of time when they are filled with horror and sorrow, and not much additionally to that. Two weeks which had been felt as two years in October 2023, from October massacre onwards, came to the Shabbat, and many of us who were aware of one more new pogrom, were also thinking about a synagogue. One of the most beautiful and special in the world, most visited, internationally known due to its huge historical importance. Djerba  Synagogue in Tunis. Which is not any more, after a vicious desecration and pogrom which destroyed it completely just two days before this Shabbat. 

Does it need to be mentioned that one of the oldest synagogues on earth was designated as the UNESCO World Heritage Site? Does it need to be reminded how beautiful and special it was? Full of harmony, meaning, brilliant architecture which was the memorial to a human genius itself, its proportions, design, and detail, twice so as it all has been done  – envisaged, planned, and actually done at the times which some experts believe to be as early as 6 century BCE? It is also believed to have some elements even from the First Temple. It is a world heritage treasure, Jewish or not. 

The tomb of one of the major Kabbalists, Rabbi Yosef Ma’Aravi, who himself was the student of the unique Rab Isaac Luriah, is the part of the Djerba Synagogue complex. Or it was, rather. Some parts inside the Synagogue, and the colouring of these parts are literally the same as it is at the Rabbi Luriah Synagogue in Safed. It is an astonishing similarity which speaks a lot to anyone who is interested in the matter. 

El Ghriba Synagogue as Djerba is also known, has been fully restored in the 19th century, and has been the subject of utter destructions before, with arsons and pro-Palestinian graffities at some places of the facade. The Synagogue was seriously damaged twice in recent years, as well. But never before I saw such a devastating pogrom of the lovely, peaceful, beautiful place which is not only very important historically, but  also has brought to Tunis a lot of money and tourists all the time. It was a vile desecration. A feast of evil. Permitted and overseen. A sign of this period of outright hate and violence against anything Jewish. 

Which we have seen also all over London this Shabbat, in the over 100 000 march of hate, with the leading role there of the openly terrorist organisation which no previous, or current governments of the United Kingdom dared to ban – despite the fact that it has been banned in 40 countries. If one is in the mood to laugh, the laugh could become  hysterical. 

Our friends from so many countries are repeating all these days: ‘You do not need to be Jewish. You need to be human’. Sort of a slogan of the day. It is truly weird, and actually is utterly absurd that this kind of basic human behaviour needs to be reminded of. Anywhere. Anytime. Speaking of the places which take for granted that they are civilised places and societies. And there is the subjects of comparison: the main square of Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, filled with 1 400 candles in all its space with a giant Israeli flag in the facade of the Rathouse in front of it, lit just in time, with the beginning of Shabbat on October 20th, 2023 – and sea of hate swarming London, on the same Shabbat, on October 21st, 2023. Decency and permitted attack on it, black on white.