Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lebanon: Beirut Synagogue to Open Next Year After Restoration

Beirut Synagogue to Reopen Next Year After Restoration

(ISJM) Bloomberg Businessweek has reported on the ongoing restoration of the Maghen Abraham Synagogue in Wadi Abou Jmil, Beirut's historic Jewish quarter. The synagogue, built in 1926, has been undergoing an extensive restoration for many years, funded mostly by Lebanese Jews living abroad. Isaac Arazi, head of the very small resident Lebanese Jewish community told author Massoud A. Derhally that the restoration, which may top $US 1 million, will be completed this fall. and will reopen for religious services in 2011.

Click here to read the entire story here.

The article also reports that "The community has also begun to repair the Jewish cemetery in Beirut, where about 4,500 Jews are buried, at a cost of about $200,000, and there are also plans to restore defunct synagogues elsewhere in the country, including one in Bhamdoun, a town 23 kilometers (14 miles) from the capital."


Hels said...

Excellent.. thank you. The "head of the very small resident Lebanese Jewish community told... that the restoration.. will be completed this fall and will reopen for religious services in 2011".

I had no idea that there was a resident Jewish community in Lebanon, very small or otherwise. How many people are there? In which city do they mainly reside? What sort of life have they been living in Lebanon since 1948 or 1956? Will they reach a minyan, once services start up in 2001?

MiMi said...


Sorry, was reading your blog and sent a comment before I had read it all re synagogue in Beirut. My understanding is that there was a thriving Jewish community in Beirut until 1982 when Israel invasion. It's quite small now. Just a couple of personal stories re this community. My husband, who is secular, but born a Sunni Muslim, was circumcized by one of Beirut's rabbis. (He was born in 1961) My understanding is that all Beiruti families took their sons to rabbis for their circumcisions. Apparently the doctors were not to be trusted! One day, I was sitting on the balcony of my husband's family home in Beirut and notice a lovely building across the street with Stars of David encircling it. I questioned my husband's aunt and she said, "Oh, that was the home of Jewish Social Services. My best friend was the head of it." She became tearful and said, "Shortly after the Israelis invaded she left. I never heard from her again. I'm assuming she is living in Israel." Another story I heard -- and if I added all of the details, quite funny -- was of two maiden women whose father was the sheik (yes, apparently there were Jewish sheiks) of a village in Lebanon. (My understanding is that sheik means "wise one" and is bestowed on one who has earned this title and thus the person to whom people in the village come for advice) When the Israelis came they were encouraged to leave but refused. They lived their remianing years as the sheikas (female of sheik) of their village. When my husband came to the United States to study law in 1986 he came with a number of people from Beirut and at least two of them were Jewish women. I remember this because my husband admits that he had a crush on one of them. Finally, my husband has for several years now visited the Jewish cemetery where he has assisted in its upkeep during his visits to Beirut. But, he is one person and there is much to do. Again, I plan to visit in late fall and will send pictures, if appropriate.