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Hundreds of Jews ease back into Tunisia for annual pilgrimage to ancient synagogue

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    Jewish pilgrims gather for a procession at the Ghriba synagogue, during the annual Jewish pilgrimage in the resort of Djerba, Tunisia, Friday April 26, 2013. They come to celebrate the annual rites at El-Ghriba, the oldest Jewish monument built in Africa more than 2,500 years ago. On April 11, 2002 a deadly attack on the synagogue killed 21 people, including 14 German tourists.(AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)The Associated Press

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    Jewish pilgrims are gathered for a procession at the Ghriba synagogue, during the annual Jewish pilgrimage in the resort of Djerba, Tunisia, Friday April 26, 2013. They come to celebrate the annual rites at El-Ghriba, the oldest Jewish monument built in Africa more than 2,500 years ago. On April 11, 2002 a deadly attack on the synagogue killed 21 people, including 14 German tourists.(AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)The Associated Press

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    Jewish pilgrims are gathered for a procession at the Ghriba synagogue, during the annual Jewish pilgrimage in the resort of Djerba, Tunisia, Friday April 26, 2013. They come to celebrate the annual rites at El-Ghriba, the oldest Jewish monument built in Africa more than 2,500 years ago. On April 11, 2002 a deadly attack on the synagogue killed 21 people, including 14 German tourists.(AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)The Associated Press

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    Rabbi Mamou reads a holy book during the annual Jewish pilgrimage at the Ghriba synagogue in the resort of Djerba, Tunisia, Friday April 26, 2013. The pilgrimage to the synagogue commemorates the April 11, 2002 deadly attack on the synagogue that killed 21 people, including 14 German tourists. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)The Associated Press

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    Jewish pilgrims are gathered at the entrance of the Ghriba synagogue, during the annual Jewish pilgrimage in the resort of Djerba, Tunisia, Friday April 26, 2013. The pilgrimage to the synagogue commemorates the April 11, 2002 deadly attack on the synagogue that killed 21 people, including 14 German tourists.(AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)The Associated Press

Jews are gathering on a bucolic Tunisian island resort for an annual pilgrimage under a heavy police presence, as organizers try to revive an event depleted by fears of anti-Semitism.

Jewish leaders hope the three-day pilgrimage to the Ghriba synagogue, Africa's oldest, on the island of Djerba is regaining momentum after attendance plummeted in the wake of a 2002 al-Qaida bombing.

Tunisia's 2011 revolution also unleashed some anti-Semitism among radical Islamists, and the event was cancelled that year. About 100 pilgrims came last year.

Jewish leaders say they expect up to 500 foreign visitors for this year's pilgrimage ending Sunday.

It drew 10,000 visitors as recently as 2000. Big crowds haven't returned since an al-Qaida-linked militant detonated a truck bomb at the synagogue — killing 21 people, mostly German tourists.