Ancient Syrian Synagogue Destroyed

2,000 year old Jobar synagogue attacked by government soldiers

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A devastating cultural loss for world Jewry occurred on Friday, with the destruction of a 2,000-year-old synagogue in Jobar, Syria.

According to the Syrian resistance, the building was struck by mortars fired by Assad government soldiers. The video uploaded to YouTube by the resistance is unclear on the extent of the damage, but it appears to be very serious.

The origins of the synagogue are shrouded in legend. According to local tradition, the synagogue was built by Elijah the prophet's successor Elisha, in order to mark the spot where Elijah took refuge from his pursuers.

According to the Times of Israel, the synagogue appears in the Talmud, which "states that Rabbi Rafram bar Pappa prayed there."

The site was held sacred by Syrian Jews for generations. Following the departure of most of the Syrian community to Israel, the government desecrated the site, converting it "to a school for Palestinian refugees."

Numerous Jewish cultural sites have been threatened by the Syrian civil war, along with sites belonging to many other groups. The Jobar synagogue must count, however, as one of the most egregious losses, given its age and sanctity to the Syrian Jewish community.

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