Ancient Aleppo Synagogue in Danger of Destruction Amid Fierce Battles Between Assad, Opposition Forces
One of the oldest synagogues in the world is likely to become another fatality in the Syrian civil war, due to its proximity to the latest strikes on the city of Aleppo, where the ancient Jewish house of worship is situated, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Thursday.
The heavy bombardment of the city over the past several days by Russian- and Hezbollah-backed Assad regime forces, during which more than 500 people were reportedly killed, puts any structure in the vicinity at risk, Walla said.
In an attempt to salvage the contents of the synagogue – which is located right near a number of opposition sniper outposts targeted by Assad’s army — the aid organization Amalia made a public appeal for assistance in removing and preserving the Torah scrolls, prayer books and other holy objects from the building – to salvage them from the dustbin of history.
Amalia founder and president Israeli-American businessman Moti Kahana said the destruction of the synagogue “could also destroy any vestige of Jewish life that had been part of the city’s landscape for hundreds of years.”
Kahana, who has reportedly spent millions of dollars over the past few years aiding Syrian victims of the raging civil war, added, “We are working in cooperation with members of the opposition in the city in order to salvage as much of the synagogue’s contents as possible. It is a long and expensive process, which is why we are appealing to every Jew from anywhere in the world to join our effort. Together we can rescue the story of the Jews of Aleppo.”
This is not the first time the synagogue has been in danger. In 2012, with the onset of the siege of Assad’s forces on Syria’s largest city, the building suffered from a number of direct hits during battles with the opposition. This caused the belief that the structure had been completely destroyed. But in 2014, reports emerged that the synagogue had survived the shelling.
When the last Jewish family in Aleppo was smuggled out of Syria during 2105, the synagogue was all that remained of the Jewish presence in the city, according to Walla.