Once home to a thriving and ancient Jewish community, Syria now has but a handful of Jews, who have fared poorly during the ongoing civil war. Nonetheless, the Elfrange synagogue in Damascus refuses to close its doors. (Video, six minutes.)
Elfrange is the only one of Damascus’ seventeen synagogues that has not been shut down and robbed. It serves a membership of sixteen men, ages sixty to ninety.
Since the 1990s only a few dozen Jews have remained in Syria, according to Avraham Hamra, who in 1993 left Damascus, where he served as chief rabbi, and now lives in Holon, near Tel Aviv. As many as 4,000 Jews were still living in Damascus, Aleppo, and al-Qamishli until then-President Hafez al-Assad, on the eve of Passover 1992, permitted Syria’s Jews to emigrate, as long as they didn’t go to Israel.