Sunday, May 14, 2006

One of Beirut's best kept secrets!



Hassan posted an entry that linked to an impressive database of civil war pictures. I post these pictures as a complementary yet contrasting entry.

Both our posts highlight the worst of Lebanon, yet these pictures could also point to the promise of our country. (pictures courtesy of al mashriq)

15 comments:

Ecce Libanus said...

Raja, do you know if this (the Magen-Abraham)Synagogue is being (or has been) renovated?

http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/700/720/726/synagogues/beirut/wadibujmil/

An excellent phd dissertation, on the Jewish community of Beirut, is currently in the works. So, I guess I can wait for an answer when this work is completed... But if you know anything in the meantime, please share.

Raja said...

ecce,

i know that there are people in lebanon who are interested in renovating it, and that they are in contact with several jewish communities in europe that are more than willing to put up the financing required.

an acquiantance and a friend of mine were involved in this initiative. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you where developments are at the moment. I have been out of the loop for quite some time now.

Hassan said...

I went there about a month ago with some friend to take photos of it. You can take less photos now because it is a high-security area now (in the background are the Grand Serail, British embassy, and the mansions of Saad Hariri and some of his siblings). I am not sure about renovation. It looks better in the photos than it did a month ago.

I hear there's also another synagogue around the AUB campus. I'm not sure if it's on campus or nearby. Any ideas?

reem said...

I actually wrote a research paper on the synagogue back in 2003(as part of an urban regeneration course). At the time there were plans to renovate it, but these were halted. I know an architecture major who also did his project on the building...I am not sure about current developments though.

ghassan said...

The pictures of the war ,posted by Hassan, are nothing short of a documentation without any spin about the cruelty and inhumanity of the Lebanese civil war.

Why would anyone consider a renovated synagoge a symbol of tolerance that would counter balance all the misery, bigotry and attrocities that accompanied the war. A renovated synagoge will be nothing short of a cruael PR game when the Lebanese government and a large section of the population insist on a daily dehumanisation of the Jews and the Jewish faith. Why would we want a renovated synagoge when we do not want to even admit any Jews into the country? That will be the epitome of hypocracy.
Lessons from our past are learned only when they are faced clearly and without any embelishments. Whitewashing the past and denying its cruelty will only serve to perpetuate a myth and delay dealing with reality.

Abu Kais said...

There were plans to renovate the synagogue, I think. No Lebanese jew would dare worship in public nowadays. With parties like SSNP and Hizbullah and other fundamentalists groups bashing jews in banners all over the city, I doubt the remaining 60-70 jews in Lebanon will want to expose themselves to rampant anti-semitism. Many of them practice their religion in secret or live as christians. We're talking here of mostly elderly jews and a few families that live in predominantly Christian areas. If you ask one of them today why Lebanese jews left the country, they would tell you they weren't different from the other Lebanese who left during the war. The jews of Lebanon were always better treated and integrated. I remember reading once that emissaries from the Yishuv and later Israel found it extremely difficult to convince them to leave Lebanon for Israel. Some of them did end up going, but it was the cruelty of the war more than acts targeting them specifically. The area where the synagogue is, Wadi Abu Jamil, is where most of them lived. The synagogue suffered the most damage during the Israeli invasion.

Ecce Libanus said...

You know what! It pains me a great deal to hear about these (supposedly) patent "Lebanese" anti-semitic impulses.
A few years back, I met a great Lebanese, a guy named Yitzhak Levannon (né S-haak Kishk-Cohen, from Beirut), who happened to be Israel's Consul General to New England (today Israel's ambassador in DC.) A great scholar of Lebanon, a Lebanese at heart, who was pretty much forced out in '67. He (as do many in his adoptive country, Israel) has a great affection for Lebanon.
Why is it that some of "us" (Lebanese?) insist on getting us sucked into this silly "Arab-Israeli conflict", when our people are scattered all over the planet, and are citizens of many countries that do not necessarily espouse the blinkered Arabist worldview???

Le Liban, pour moi, c'est l'universalité!

Charles Malik said...

There is no renovation going on.

In fact, the synagogue was in better condition immediately after the war than it is in now.

Anyone who claims to have plans is just talking. There have been no concrete efforts put into actually repairing the structure, that I know of.

the perpetual refugee said...

I have showed this blog and these photos to rooms full of Israelis. They were shocked to see such a beautiful synagogue in Beirut of all places. The synagogues in Israel are much more simple, less ornate.

This is one post that makes us look a bit more civilized, even though the reality is heart breaking.

the perpetual refugee said...

Ecce, they love the Lebanese.

Cynic said...

Too bad these pictures don't show the massive hole in the roof. Do you know this synagogue was bombed by the Israelis in 1982? Wannabe 'civilizers' can hide behind the fact that the bombing was a mistake but its another enduring and great irony of "Operation Peace for Galilee." Anybody want to ask the Israelis for compensation for this amongst other damages?

david said...

Onlyh60-70 jews in Beirut, their backyard?? Wow, that's sooooo very bizarre. I think there are more of them on my street here in California!

Anonymous said...

ODILe said. . .i am a lebanese jew .i was adopted by Israel where (not like a refuge) i leave happily 30 years.i learn what democracy and not be affraid to give my ideas.My best friend were the Daouk,Sinno,Arab,ghandour,Nammar, Sfer,Karam,Nader,Khater etc, and so . .? teach democracy is my advice.

Anonymous said...

I had my barmitzvah in this beautiful synagogue. I wish one day I can come back to see it.
I am a Lebanese at heart. Left in 1968, and promised myself to never return, till I feel accepted as a Lebanese Jew.

Lebanese Patriot said...

All Lebanese and particularly Lebanese Jews need to check this out.... it's time bring back our once vibrant community.

http://thejewsoflebanon.org/