Pictures said to show historic Damascus synagogue destroyed

Pictures said to show historic Damascus synagogue destroyed

After numerous reports of damage from civil war, Jobar’s Eliyahu Hanabi Synagogue ‘flattened’ in attack by Assad’s forces on capital’s suburb

Detail from a photograph of the Jobar Synagogue in  Damascus, circa 2013. (Moti Kahana)
Detail from a photograph of the Jobar Synagogue in Damascus, circa 2013. (Moti Kahana)

A historic synagogue on the outskirts of Damascus was reportedly destroyed amid fighting in Syria’s civil war.

Last year, The Times of Israel carried reports variously indicating that the centuries-old synagogue had destroyed and then that it was still intact amid fighting between pro-Assad and Syrian rebel forces.

But last weekend, opposition leaders said Syrian army forces had flattened the more than 400-year-old Eliyahu Hanabi Synagogue in an attack — part of a months-long bombardment of the suburb of Jobar — and also may have destroyed thousands of Jewish artifacts, The Daily Beast reported.

The synagogue was damaged by a mortar shell in 2013. It stopped functioning as a Jewish house of worship more than a century ago.

In December 2013, Syrian opposition sources said they were protecting the synagogue 24 hours a day. They also said the Torah scrolls had been removed from the synagogue for safe-keeping, but would be returned if and when it was safe to do so.

Before Syria’s civil war, the synagogue reportedly housed thousands of religious and cultural treasures, including century-old Torah scrolls, historical texts, dishes and ancient Judaica. It was not clear how many of those were in the building when it was destroyed.

The synagogue is said to have been built atop the cave where the Prophet Elijah hid from his persecutors. Local Arab leaders took over the synagogue building in the 19th century.

After Israel was established, the building was used as a school for Palestinian refugees.

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