Only in New York
Upon my first time entering La Baraka, an exotic NYC restaurant, I felt like a guest in the home of the owners, a Tunisian and Algerian couple. To my surprise, the owners are Jewish and fled their homelands long ago. Captivated by their childhood stories of Jewish life, I devised a plan to visit North Africa. Jewish life in Tunisia has dwindled, but the El Ghriba synagogue, dating to before the Second Temple, symbolizes the once thriving culture. Desperate for bragging rights at High Holy Days events, I visited the historic synagogue. El Ghriba was almost entirely vacant. I stood in a relic of a once robust and vibrant site- the destination of Jews during annual pilgrimages, now largely forgotten. After returning home, I went back to La Baraka to share my experience. Since then, Jewish restaurants in Tunisia have closed as the Jewish culture vanishes. It may soon be gone forever, preserved in restaurant dishes, native tales, and other vestiges found in Jewish NY.