Damaged by mortar fire in 2013, and subsequently looted, the ancient synagogue in the Damascus suburb of Jobar may not have much of a future. Photographs exist, however, from 2009 and 2010 and—thanks to the Diarna project—these photographs are being preserved online along with pictures of many other synagogues, destroyed or in danger, throughout the Middle East. Rose Kaplan writes (slideshow included):
According to [local tradition], the synagogue is said to mark the location where Elijah anointed his disciple Elisha, although historical data suggest that multiple structures have existed there since antiquity. The Romanian Jewish traveler and historian Israël Joseph Benjamin visited the site in the mid-19th century and wrote that the original structure had been destroyed by the Roman emperor Titus; [he also noted the existence of] a second synagogue, supposedly rebuilt in the 1st century by Rabbi Eleazar ben Arakh and destroyed in the 16th century. . . .
Damascus Jews continued praying at the synagogue through the 1950s, making the long trek to Jobar for Shabbat prayers or for the Jewish holidays, or as a sort of pilgrimage. Many Jews had left Syria after the Holocaust, and again after the establishment of the state of Israel, and regular usage of the synagogue dwindled. However, it remained under the control of the Syrian Jewish community—Jews from Damascus installed caretakers in the synagogue to maintain the space, look after its Torah scrolls, show it to visitors, etc.