Tunisian Jews celebrate Purim

‘Queen Esther’ has a snack at the Pinson school in Tunis

In Djerba, Jews burn an effigy of the evil Haman at Purim. In Tunis, the celebrations are more restrained. Report on Tunisia Live:

The celebration commemorates the rescue of the Persian Kingdom’s Jews from Haman, the ancient Persian King’s adviser. The traditional Jewish story recounts how Haman’s attempt to massacre the Jews was halted by the King’s Jewish Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai.

Tunisian Jews fast during the day leading up to the festival of Purim, known as the Fast of Esther, and on the night of Purim they read the story of the holiday, which is known as the Meghilla. On Purim, they dress up in different costumes and eat various sweet foods. According to locals, many of the Tunisian sweet shops in Lafayette today use recipes originally mastered by Tunisian Jews who once heavily populated the neighborhood.

According to former Oxford University graduate student Naomi Stone, in her thesis Bilad al Haqaniya?: Otherness and Homeland in the Case of Djerban, Tunisian Jewry, the Jewish community in Djerba is the only Jewish community in the world that celebrates the holiday by burning a large effigy of Haman the morning of Purim.

The centuries-old tradition was lost by other Jewish communities over time but was retained in Djerba. In her thesis, published in 2006, Stone observed children throwing firecrackers at the burning effigy of Haman.

Read article in full


  • I muwt have been watched over by my guardian angel. I was in Tel Aviv at Pourim and intended to go to the main square to join the festivities. But at the last minute went to visit my daughter's inlaws at Herselya.
    The TV was on and we heard that a bomb had gone off in Dizzingoff Sg.!!you'd be amazed how quickly the news went round: Emails, phones, TV!!!The whole of Israel was informed.
    Unfortunately it was the begining of the first intifada
    Sultana Latifa


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.