Diarna, “our home” in Judeo-Arabic, is a non-profit initiative that pioneers the use of Digital Mapping technologies, i.e. photography and video, to explore and preserve the unfolding of Jewish history. Because Jewish antiquities, synagogues, cemeteries, shrines, etc., are disappearing due to attrition or destructive outside forces, this project is the flip side of Home in Another Place, archiving endangered Jewish communities in portraiture.
Diarna is also a scholarly endeavor, and since its inception, has been focused on amassing visual and meta data from the Middle East, North Africa and Iran, eventually moving east to Turkey, India and Central Asia. All of the data is from contributing photographers. The project also benefits Muslims and Arabs as well, having access to learn more about their shared history.
In the summer of 2016, I traveled to Tunisia to photograph the active and inactive synagogues and cemeteries. With my guide Rafram and drive Tzvi, they covered over 1,000 km. documenting at 35 different sites.
It is unfortunate that many of these synagogues lay in ruins, as the Tunisian government and the Comite Juif in Tunis have not felt the need to rescue them. There is little documentation of their histories or dates, but with the exception of Tatouine, Djerba, Mokime and Testour which are very old, most were built in the end of the 19th and early 20th century.
Note: The 2,000 year old Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, also known as the Jobar Synagogue that are in the Syrian gallery, was tragically destroyed by the Assad Syrian Army in 2014.