This rabbi blows a shofar just before Shabbat

Every Friday, Tunisia's chief rabbi stands on his rooftop and blows a shofar, announcing the start of Shabbat.

Hezki Baruch,

Rabbi Bitan blows the shofar on his rooftop in Tunisia
Rabbi Bitan blows the shofar on his rooftop in Tunisia
Hezki Baruch

For fifty years, every Friday just before sunset, Tunisia's Chief Rabbi Haim Bitan has climbed onto the roof of his home, overlooking the Jewish neighborhood in Djerba, and announced the start of Shabbat (the Sabbath) with his shofar.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Rabbi Bitan explained the custom, saying it is mentioned both in the Talmud and the Mishnah.

Praising his community, Rabbi Bitan said, "The Jewish community arrived in Tunis during the First Temple Period, and today it numbers 1,500 Jews, most of them in Djerba and another 300 in the capital."

"In Djerba, there isn't a single Jew who desecrates Shabbat - everyone observes Shabbat and the Torah's commandments. Everyone eats kosher and learns Torah. In addition to the yeshivas and boys' schools, we're also building a new school for 200 girls in the community."

"Our relationship with the Arabs is good, and most of them get along with us. Some of the families move to Israel, but the community's numbers remain stable because we have about 30 births a year, and each year about 30 Jews leave for Israel."

Tunisia's Jews speak a mixture of Hebrew, Spanish, and Arabic. Their writing is similar to Rashi script, and to Maimonides' handwriting, strengthening the Djerba Jews' connection with the Jews exiled from Spain.

"I hope that Israel and Tunis will strengthen their relationship," Rabbi Bitan concluded.

Rabbi Bitan in his synagogue
Hezki Baruch



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