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Intimate Stranger

A young poet’s journey on the island of Djerba

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El Ghriba Synagogue, Djerba
El Ghriba Synagogue, Djerba

Off the Tunisian coast, the small island of Djerba is home to a tight-knit community of Kohanic Jews. Only about 1,000 remain, living among a Muslim population of about 100,000. For centuries, the two communities coexisted peacefully, but relations began to become strained in the mid-twentieth century. They reached a low in 2002, when terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda blew up a gas truck near the community’s synagogue, known as the Ghriba, or the Stranger.

A year later, Nomi Stone, just out of college, went to Djerba in the hope of getting to know the people who call the island home.

She kept copious notes on the friends she made there, on their unique religious customs, and on their changing attitudes toward each other and her. She later turned those thoughts into poetry. Nomi Stone spoke with Nextbook about The Stranger’s Notebook, her new collection of poetry chronicling her stay on Djerba.

Photo: El Ghriba Synagogue, Djerba, Tunisia
by andycarvin / Andy Carvin; some rights reserved.

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Intimate Stranger

A young poet’s journey on the island of Djerba

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