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Jobar Synagogue

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Jobar Synagogue

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Basic Information

Location Damascus, Damascus Governorate, Syria
Country Syrian Arab Republic
City Damascus

General Information

Open to visitors no
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no

Summary

The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue Syria's oldest synagogue, dating back at least to the Middle Ages, now lays in ruins as of May of 2014. The synagogue is at least 400 years old and housed hundreds if not thousands of Jewish religious artefacts. Also known as the Jobar Synagogue it was situated in the village of Jobar now encompassed by the metropolitan area of the City of Damascus. It was once adjoined to a complex with rooms for the rabbi and other functionaries of the community. The synagogue was built atop a cave traditionally thought to have served the prophet Elijah in hiding. The hall center was said to be the place where Elijah anointed Elisa. During the Syrian civil war it was hit by mortar bombs, looted, and later demolished or destroyed at the end of May 2014.


History and time period

The synagogue had a plaque stating it was from 720 b.c. and was frequently but incorrectly perceived to be a 2,000-year-old synagogue located in the suburb of Jobar, Damascus The earliest verifiable literary sources indicate that it is at least medieval in origin. It was built in commemoration of the biblical prophet Elijah, and has been a place of Jewish pilgrimage for many centuries. It also is the burial-place of a wonder-working sage of the sixteenth century.

Often, though wrongly cited as one of the world's oldest synagogues, on March 31, 2013 it was reported to have been burned to the ground during the Syrian civil war, with both government and rebel forces trading blame over which party looted and destroyed the building. However, In June 2013 al Aan broadcasting corporation published a video which demonstrated that the synagogue had not been destroyed. It had nonetheless suffered from the effects of mortar fire with damage to the ceiling and the Bimah. In December 2013 photographs of the synagogue also surfaced that disproved the claim that it had been destroyed.

On Jerusalem day May 29, 2014, a news.report in the Daily Beast published photographs to indicate that the synagogue left wing and nave, that is the majority of the structure, were totally demolished. There is no reason to associate the two events, Jerusalem Day and the destruction of Jobar, together. Again rebel and Syrian army claims have accused each other. The world media said it was probably the Syrian army, non-deliberately hitting the synagogue while targeting a nearby rebel enclave although there is evidence to the contrary such that rebels were also in the synagogue complex, contrary to 1954 Geneva Convention. Pictures of the devastated synagogue were shown on The Daily Beast website.

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