Jewish businessman named government minister in Tunisia


(JTA) — Tunisia has appointed a Jewish businessman as its tourism minister.

Rene Trabelsi was named to the post by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on Monday as part of a Cabinet reshuffle that saw 10 new ministers join the government. He will be the first Jewish government minister to serve in recent decades and only the third Jewish Cabinet member sincein the  predominately Muslim country achieved independence in 1956, Reuters reported.

Trabelsi is the son of Tunisian Jewish community leader Perez Trabelsi, who is president of the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba.

The younger Trabelsi, a tour operator, grew up on Djerba and is co-organizer of the annual visit by Jewish pilgrims to the island for Lag b’Omer. More than 3,000 Jewish pilgrims, many of them Israeli, visited the island for this year’s rite.

Tunisia, in North Africa, is home to about 2,000 Jews in a population of more than 11 million.

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