Beirut synagogue renovated after port blast, but no Jews likely to pray there

Lebanese TV shows restored Maghen Abraham Synagogue, but expert says the approximately 30 Jews still in the country ‘fear for their fate’

Beirut's Magen Avraham synagogue before restoration projects. (Photo credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, NYC2TLV/Wikimedia)
Beirut's Magen Avraham synagogue before restoration projects. (Photo credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, NYC2TLV/Wikimedia)

Beirut’s Maghen Abraham Synagogue has been renovated after being damaged by the catastrophic port blast this summer in the Lebanese capital, but the few Jews said to remain in the country are reportedly too scared to pray in it.

The renovations were paid for by Jewish donors overseas and the development firm Solidere, founded by the late Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, according to a Lebanese television report that was also shown on Israel’s Channel 12 news Wednesday.

According to Nagi Georges Zeidan, an expert on Lebanon’s tiny Jewish community, there are only 29 Jews left in the country. The TV report said there is no communal life and prayers aren’t held at the synagogue on Shabbat. The community had numbered in the low hundreds in the 1970s, and has since dwindled to just a few dozen at most.

“Since they kidnapped nine Jews in 1985, executed them and their burial place isn’t known, every Jew in Lebanon began to fear for their fate. That’s the truth,” Zeidan told Lebanese TV.

Renovations continue of our blessed and sea Synagogue in Beirut –

Posted by Lebanese Jewish Community Council on Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The synagogue appeared to only sustain minor damage in the August explosion at the Beirut port, which killed over 200 and wounded thousands, while leaving large parts of the city devastated.

An image on the Facebook page of a group called Lebanese Jewish Community Council showed some debris and dust on the floor of the synagogue and on plastic sheets covering the pews. The walls showed no cracks and it was not clear whether the glass windows were shattered, but the frames seemed to be in place.

Photos from inside the synagogue that were shared by the group in November showed apparent damage to the interior of the building. The group said the renovations were continuing.

The synagogue reopened last year following extensive renovations.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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