Reviving Lebanon’s Jewish Community


Wadi Abu Jmil is loosing it’s identity. Once home to Lebanese Jews, today it is under threat of loosing one of Lebanon’s oldest identity, Judaism.

Though it pleases me to post, that Lebanese Expatriates are helping to fund and renovate the ancient Magen Abraham synagogue in the heart of the Lebanese capital, one of the largest in the Arab world. Renovation is expected by the end of this year or by 2009.

In the capital, along the former demarcation line between the Muslim and Christian areas, another vestige survives: the Jewish cemetery.

The Jews of Lebanon, a highly active Lebanese blog, seeks to raise the awareness of the Jewish community and to make it an active participant in public life.

Before the (1975-1990) civil war, there were about 22,000 Lebanese Jews; Today, there are about 300 Lebanese Jews currently residing in Lebanon.

Efraim, a merchant and a member of the Jewish Council in Lebanon, the community’s official authority, says one of the annoyances is living in a country where mixing the terms “Jewish” and “Israeli” is common.

“People still occasionally ask me if I am Israeli,

To him, “that’s exactly as if we used the term Iranians to describe Lebanese Shiites.

After 1982, very few Jews went to Israel, and those who did, didn’t stay long. They felt deeply Lebanese. Many Lebanese Jewish expatriates, mostly emigrating to the west, still have land and do not want to sell, because it would be like selling a part of themselves“.


7 Responses to “Reviving Lebanon’s Jewish Community”

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  4. 4 sawani

    I would like to know about jewish remaining community in tripoli in addition to their neighborhood, cemetry, synagogues and so on if anybody can help me
    thanks a lot
    best regards

  5. My father use to take me for a walk in Wadi Abou Jmil before the war, he used to show some nice old houses with red tiled roofs stating that they belonged to Jews & that they were leaving Lebanon. A Jewish friend told him that after 1967 war that they were being contacted by the Mossad and asked to sell their belongings & leave because their security was at risk.

    I had Lebanese Jewish comrades at school, in 1971-72 when I was at College de Lasalle near the Holliday Inn and in 1976, when I was sent to my sisters’ school, Soeurs de Besançon School, which is located in Wadi Abou Jmil. They were Lebanese like us and spoke Arabic at home.

    I was in West Beirut in 1982 during the siege of Beirut. The Israeli army did not target Wadi Abou Jmil because Jews were still living there, the bombardment was targetting PLO forces; actually, by 1982, not many Jews stayed there as the neighborhood was squatted by the Kurds and refugees from the South. Most of the Lebanese Jews left Lebanon in 1976. In 1984-85, some elderly Jewish businessmen who stayed in West-Beirut were abducted for ransom by some Islamist thugs; I remember that several of them got assassinated, in particular an old merchant by the name of Mizrahi.

    Here is a documentary from a French TV station taken in February 1976. The Synagogue was still intact:

  6. 6 Tfeh!

    Many different stories have been circulating with regards to the synagogue and the two surrounding buildings. The last I’ve heard was that the buildings were demolished and the synagogue was soon to follow. It would be a shame to loose such a landmark.
    I am glad to hear that renovation will take place and sure hope that people will be allowed to visit and worship.

  1. 1 Global Voices Online » Lebanon: Reviving Lebanon’s Jewish Community

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