16 December 2011 9:13 pm | | 7

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The Tomb of Rabbi Hai Taieb Lo Met

The Tunisian Jewish Community celebrated the Hiloula, or pilgrimage for the anniversary of the death of former 18th century Chief Rabbi Hai Taieb Lo Met at the Bourgel Cemetery in Tunis, December 15th.

While in previous years the number of pilgrims have reached up to 600 people, this year the pilgrimage saw almost 100 pilgrims, mostly locals but also a handful from France and one Rabbi from Bne Barak, Israel, who said he holds duel Israeli-Tunisian citizenship.

According to Rene Trabelsi the Director General of Royal First Travel and one of the organizers for the pilgrims who came from abroad, “the pilgrimage was smaller this year because people are unsure of the security situation in Tunisia but everyone will come and go home safely as normal. There will be a higher number coming to Tunisia next year.”

About ten plain clothed police closely guarded the ceremony which included the pouring of Boukha, or a fig based alcoholic drink on the Rabbi’s tombstone as well as adding nuts and handwritten messages as is the tradition of the community that reveres the Rabbi.

Rabbi Hai Taieb

Rabbi Hai Taieb was born in Tunis in 1774, he was known as a great Kaballalist and according to Jewish oral tradition his prayers to God once brought rain during a time of drought in Tunisia.  One book of his writings Halev Hitim remains in existence.  In the last years of his life, he suffered from depression and alcoholism when most of his written works were inadvertently destroyed. His followers gave him the title of “Lo Met” or “never died” because they claim that his wisdom will always live on.

The Rabbi has a Synagogue in Belleville, France named after him.

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  2. Khaled says:

    Nice story about your experience with Tunisian jews. My experience is, to never trust them. Most of Tunisian jews, though treated well in our history are now all Zionist jews. They come to Tunisia, have a Tunisian citizenship and also a Zionists Israel one. Even if they do not have a Zionist passport, they do visit their family in Israel and praise Israel when they are among jews.

    My advise to all Tunisians, treat the Tunisian jews well, but never trust them.

    • Afif says:


      If a Muslim person holds both the American and Tunisian Citizenships, will you trust him? If Tunisia and Isreal tomorrow have friendly relations because the Israelis and Palestinians decided to find a mutually satisfactory solution,will you change what you said? The French colonized Tunisia and plundered the country and its people, will you say the same concerning a Muslim Tunisian who holds dual citizenship? Now, let us suppose in the latter question that the person is a Tunisian Christian, will your answer be the same? My point is that maybe we need to examine our own prejudices before we condemn others. My more important point, however, is that we are all Tunisians and United We Stand, Divided we ALL fall! Finally, by way of example only, you may want to google the contributions that Tunisian jews made to Tunisia in 1961 when Charles De Gaulle refused to give up Bizerte. Do you think the jews left for Israel? Please do not take my comment in a negative way, I am simply at peace with my convictions,and if I am wrong, I would like to know.

  3. Afif says:

    Thank you for the article. The jewish community and its traditions and history are part and parcel of our Tunisian history and heritage. When I grew up in Mahdia, my father taught me to always greet our jewish neighbors and be courteous, so they never feel they are not part of us. or strangers; And when I went back home during the breaks during my college years our jewish merchant was always happy to see me. He was also my best advisor about the best hooks for my fishing lines. I guess I never thought of him as an outsider or different, but rather as a member of my community. I visited with him in 1990, accompanied by my father. He was genuinely happy about my accomplishements abroad. I teased him about selling me some good fishing lines and he replied that he did not sell any fishing lines any longer, because “kids just don’t finish like they used to,” he explained. In recent years, when I visited Tunisia, I noticed that his store was closed and I asked about him. They told me that he had passed away. His absence for me was no less painful than not hearing the call for prayer from the Mosque of my Muslim faith. I think many Tunisian jews have refused to go to Israel after the revolution because they know they are loved in their own homeland.

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