A Remnant Of Libya’s Jewish Past

A Remnant Of Libya’s Jewish Past

At its height, in the middle of the 20th Century, the two-millennia-old Jewish community of Libya numbered nearly 40,000 residents, served by dozen of synagogues.

Today, following several pogroms and an extended migration that started in the 1940s and accelerated in 1967, Libya has no known Jews.

And, of course, no functioning synagogues. The buildings were destroyed over the years, or turned into mosques or Coptic churches.

In Tripoli, the capital, the Dar Al-Bishi synagogue, once the jewel of the Jewish community, is reportedly in ruins, accessible only by sneaking through a hole in the back wall and climbing over a pile of trash.

In Yefren, a Berber town in western Libya, a 2,000-year-old synagogue, supposedly destroyed in this year’s Arab Spring fighting between government forces and anti-government rebels, apparently still stands, though deserted.

The picture above was taken earlier this month at the Yefren synagogue. The Hebrew inscription on an inside wall reads “Shalom Guetta born here in 1864.”

Today, some 110,000 Jews with Libyan roots live overseas, mostly in Israel or Italy.

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