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Isaac Arazi, 80, head of ‘tiny’ Jewish community in Lebanon

There are reportedly about 30 Jews left in the country.

Bhamdoun Synagogue in Lebanon. Credit: Alex9330/Shutterstock.
Bhamdoun Synagogue in Lebanon. Credit: Alex9330/Shutterstock.

The octogenarian former president of the about 30-strong Jewish community in Lebanon, who had sought to conserve the abandoned Magen Avraham synagogue in central Beirut, died on Dec. 27 and was buried the same day, AFP reported.

Lebanon’s Jewish community dates back 2,000 years, though it has plummeted from some 22,000 before the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90) to about 30 individuals today, according to Bassem el-Hout, a lawyer for the Jewish community.

Magen Avraham synagogue Beirut
The Magen Avraham synagogue in Beirut. Credit: Omarali85 via Wikipedia.

Though Lebanese Jews emigrated to Brazil, Europe and the United States after 1948 with the establishment of modern-day Israel, “they are still attached to Lebanon and many come back regularly,” Hout told AFP.

Arazi had told the wire service in 2009 that he was “ecstatic” about renovating the then nearly 85-year-old Beirut shul and hoped it would “ensure that the community grows once again.”

“The synagogue’s last rabbi fled the country in 1977 as Lebanese Jews left in droves, particularly after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, where the words ‘Jews’ and ‘Israelis’ are often synonymous,” per AFP.

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