Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lebanon: Living side by side

Believe it, we still have synagogues in Beirut. Even though this synagogue needs refurbishing, it stands tall and will always remain where it is. Lebanon, and more specifically Beirut's Wadi Abu Jmil area had a thriving community of Lebanese-Jews living side by side with the 18 different religions of Lebanon. This country, unlike what you hear on the uninformed media, respects all people and is open to all religions in the world. And believe me, we have place for one or two more. We are not counting anymore, much the contrary. And we are definitely and will never be closed down by a single religion in Lebanon, because this goes against any principle which holds this country together. It might be a chaotic country, it probably shouldn't work, but it has, does and always will. No matter what!

Some facts about Downtown's Synagogue:
.Called: Maghen Abraham Synagogue
. Built in 1925 and means Abraham's Shield
. Named after one of the local Lebanese-Jewish community members
.Joseph Harhi, head of the 14,000 strong Lebanese-Jewish community moved the Torahs in 1976 to Geneva. Now most of them are found in Sephardic Synagogues in Israel.
. The land on which the Synagogue is built is owned by the Lebanese-Jewish community Council, and by law, all places of worship are categorized as historical sites whose corresponding religious communities must assume responsibility for restoration.
. There are still about 100 members of the Lebanese-Jewish community still in Lebanon
. The Synagogue is clearly illustrated on all official Downtown Beirut maps with a Star of David


Anonymous Anonymous said...

very interesting, you took the picture yourself?

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, all of 100 Jewish members left in the entire nation?

That tells me all I--a non-Jew--need to know about tolerance of Jews in Lebanon.

8:37 AM  
Blogger the perpetual refugee said...

And what you failed to mention. The irony of it all.

The damage to the synagogue was done by Israeli shelling....(Aug. 11, 1982 - during their other onslaught of our country).

Go figure.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HA true!!!! Please MR/MS. stop writing your killing me HAAAAAA!!!!

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok so you also forgot to mention that most of the Jewish community in Lebanon has vanished and parished to thin dust with the blessing of Lebanese and muslims!!

Oh well at least the building is there and thanks for the image it looks intresting like it could tell a few stories...... :-)

11:06 AM  
Blogger the perpetual refugee said...

Look it up. The Associated Press even covered it back then.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lebanese Jewish community fled in their high numbers to Israel during the Israeli invasion. Prior to that the community was thousands strong and they considered themselves Lebanese. So please, there are very few Jews in Lebanon because of Israel

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Dima Karam said...

There were plans to renovate the synagogue as it falls into the perimetre of Solidere -the company in charge of rebuilding downtown- but the funds necessary for its reconstruction have not been amassed yet.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous worldcitizen said...

interesting how the Lebanese, (and other regional peoples)are so passive when it comes to the influence of hezbollah & their own country , i 'm sure they have no control of certain regions, do they?
so there are 2 options, no?: turn a blind eye to the hez influence (condoning it & support it, or lack of asserting control over the 'tolerant' values), or fight this influence?

either choice has consequences, so which do you choose?

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this story - I am afraid that some who have commented have never been to Lebanon, nor are they aware of its history or the internal politics. Hang in there. It is a wonderful country and I only hope that this will end quickly.

6:49 PM  
Anonymous stephenl said...

Looks like a beautiful old building. I would have loved to see it in its heyday.

11:25 PM  
Anonymous bigberta said...

Hi, I translated this post into German and posted it here: http://bigberta.twoday.net/stories/2469996/

could you please explain to me, what diminished the Jewish Community from 14.000 to 100?

2:17 AM  
Blogger mrtez said...

The Jewish community left lebanon when Israel invaded the country in 1982 and killed some 12,000 people.
And believe it or not, but the synagogue was damaged by IDF shells.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous bigberta said...

Thank you for the info: I will post it.

7:29 PM  
Blogger HB said...

I might add that despite some shelling to the roof, the outer structure of synagogue is remarkably intact. There are almost no bullet or shrapnel marks on the outside walls or the Temple itself. This stands in stark contrast to all the surrounding residential buildings and offices, most of which were torn down because the extent of damages.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Abou Maxim said...

info on Joseph Farhi (not Harhi) :

and the Lebanese Jewish : http://www.farhi.org/Documents/JuifsduLiban.htm

NB: articals are in French

shalom . salam . peace . paix

8:21 AM  
Blogger yasmine said...

please, 'world citizen' or whatever your name is: if you just want to complain about hizbollah for whatever reason, go elsewhere. no one cares or wants to hear your crap. this blog is about beirut.

so, to stay on topic, i've tried finding information on the synagogue and community in lebanon. do you know where i can find more pictures? or where there would be more information?

also, this website looks sketchy, but do check it out. www.worldjewsishnewsagency.org
this article was published there:

"All indications lead to believe that the Jewish community is safe for now in Lebanon. The World Jewish News Agency learned that approximately 250 Lebanese Jews who used to live in the Jewish district of Wadi Abou Jmil in Beirut returned home this week. Their shops are open, the synagogue will go under intense repair and renovation, the small Jewish market will open next week and an official meeting between the new leaders of the Jewish community of Wadi Abou Jmil will meet next week with the Maronite Bishop in Acharafiyeh and the Muslim Mufti in Bastah, Beirut."

i do hope the lebanese will be going back and reviving their synagogue and community there.

7:45 PM  

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