Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rebels claim 'ancient synagogue destroyed' in Libya

The blog Point of No Return (PONR) reports that a former synagogue in the Libyan-Berber town of Yefren is said to have been destroyed in the fighting now raging between President Gaddafi's forces and Nato-supported rebels.

According to PONR:
This BBC report yesterday quotes a rebel fighter named Aydress. Aydress claims that Colonel Gaddafi's forces used rockets, missiles and anti-tank weapons to bombard the town of Yefren. They destroyed a mosque and a 'Jewish place of worship', 2,000 years old, he says.

Yefren is a Berber town in the West of Libya famous for its troglodyte caves.

According to the Lonely Planet guide to Libya, the synagogue served the Jewish community up to 1948. (Many of the town's Jews went to Moshav Usha near Haifa). The ramshackle interior contains six arches and six windows (the number represents the six points of the Star of David) surrounding a raised platform. The ceilings are adorned with Hebrew inscriptions and Hamza hands.
You can see a video of the small space with its wall inscriptions here. Many of the Hebrew inscriptions are in raised relief and also decorated with abundant hands (hamza). The space itself recalls similar small synagogues (now ruined) in the former Jewish quarters of Berber towns in Morocco.

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