The Abandoned Synagogue of Qamishlo, Syria, in Photographs

Jan. 23 2020

In the city of Qamishlo, located in the Kurdish-ruled enclave of Syria known as Rojava, it is unlikely that more than one Jew remains. But the synagogue still stands, and Philipp Breu was able to visit and take photographs. He writes:

The building is guarded by a Syrian Kurd named Kamiran Hassan and he is keen to show visitors around. . . . Over the past years, the condition of the furniture has worsened and he is currently emptying both the synagogue and the yeshiva [attached to it] to clean and repaint some metal elements. He has asked me not to take too many photos of the courtyard because he feels a bit ashamed that it looks untidy, as three turkeys are currently roaming around the vicinity.

Apart from that, everything seems in dusty, but okay condition, although the books and religious papers lying around should be kept in a more preservative way, but the guard is unable to do so, since he doesn’t have any money. He wasn’t exactly sure of the age of the building, and according to him, the synagogue doesn’t have a name, or he is unaware of it. He also showed me the container for the Torah of the synagogue, which was empty. According to him, the Torah was evacuated already at the end of the 1940s by American Jews.

Breu’s photographs of the synagogue can be found at the link below.

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Read more at Philipp Breu

More about: Kurds, Synagogues, Syrian Jewry

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism