As forces of the Assad regime draw closer to the heart of the city of Aleppo, the ancient ‘Central Synagogue of Aleppo’ is under the threat of destruction, due to the clashes with opposition forces in the city.
The synagogue, built in the 9th century CE, serves as one of the Jewish world’s oldest houses of prayer. This report features an exclusive photo of the synagogue, snapped from a hiding place by the Amaliah organization, which also reports about the synagogue’s status.
Due to its proximity to a large number of opposition snipers nests, the synagogue, which is already badly damaged, is currently under the threat of total destruction.
Efforts are being made in order to preserve its religious articles and ancient scriptures, which if destroyed might also destroy the last fragments of Jewish heritage in the city.
In light of that, the Amaliah organization, headed by Israeli-American businessman Moti Kahana is working with opposition forces in the city in order to salvage as much as possible from the synagogue.
Last week, backed by intense Russian air support and Hezbollah reinforcements, forces loyal to the Assad regime in Syria began their push towards the city of Aleppo, a known opposition stronghold in the region.
As the clashes between the forces intensify, people of Aleppo flee the city in search of a safe haven or prepare themselves for the imminent siege of the city. This has endangered not just the civilian life Aleppo, but its buildings and religious monuments as well. One such building is the ancient Central Synagogue of Aleppo.
“We are doing everything in our power in order to save as many books and scrolls as possible”, says Moti Kahana, who for the last five years has been engaged in humanitarian work in Syria. “This synagogue is an important heritage site for the Jewish people, holding many historical and holy religious articles, which if destroyed, will take with them any memory of Jewish life from this ancient city.
“We are working together with opposition forces in order to salvage the synagogues religious articles, an effort which has proven to be very costly and difficult. Hence, we call upon all Jewish people and those who share the Jewish belief, to join us in our efforts. Together, we can save the story of the Jewish life in Aleppo, which is part of the unique tapestry of the ancient Jewish life in the area.”
In 2012 the synagogue suffered major hits during the Syrian civil war, as the first battles over the city of Aleppo began. The ancient synagogue was massively hit during the clashes, leading to the belief that it was completely destroyed.
In 2014, there were reports that the synagogue was destroyed in the attack and it indeed suffered massive damage, leaving its fate in the hands of the Syrian rebels controlling the city.
In 2015, as the last Jewish family in the Aleppo was smuggled out of the city by Amaliah, the synagogue stood as a lone remnant to the Jewish life in the city, which dates back to 12th century CE.
Kahana was also involved in 2014 in preserving the ‘Jobar Synagogue’ in Damascus; he was the first Israeli-American businessman to work with various opposition groups throughout Damascus.
Hana Levi Julian