Marseille Synagogue to Become Mosque as More Jews Leave French City
A Marseille synagogue will be converted into a mosque as the Jewish population in the southern French city continues to dwindle, Newsweek reported on Wednesday.
The Muslim organization Al Badr Association purchased Or Thora synagogue and will reopen the religious site as a mosque this summer — hoping to cater to the overflow from the organization’s other mosque, filled to beyond capacity with a growing number of worshipers.
Or Thora, which was sold for $400,000, is located near the Saint-Charles train station. The synagogue sometimes had no more than 10 worshipers at once, though it has a capacity of 250, according to the French daily La Provence. In contrast, Al Badr’s mosque is often so full that congregants have no choice but to pray outside the complex on Friday, Islam’s holiest day of worship.
Marseille has a population of 800,000, of which approximately 250,000 are of Arab descent, and some 80,000 are Jewish, Newsweek reported.
Elie Berrebi, the director of Marseille’s Central Jewish Consistoire, a body governing Jewish congregations, said many of the Jewish residents in Marseille are moving out of the city because of rising antisemitism in the area. He explained that more than 80 percent of Marseille’s Jews have stopped frequenting central synagogues, since the areas around religious sites are viewed as a high security risk.
A growing number of French Jews are looking to emigrate, predominantly to London and Israel, as France faces a rise in antisemitism mostly from radicalizated young Muslims.