Friday, May 27, 2016

Diarna and the Jobar Synagogue

PHOTO ESSAY: Before Its Destruction: Jobar Synagogue in Syria. An organization called Diarna has created an online ‘geo-museum’ where visitors to explore historical Jewish sites in the Middle East and Northern Africa that no longer exist (Rose Kaplan, Tablet Magazine).
Enter Diarna, an organization dedicated to preserving historical remnants across the region—online. Through extensive field research, Diarna, which translates to ”our homes” in Judeo-Arabic, has photographed and digitally “mapped” these sites, creating an online museum complete with data and narratives through which visitors can learn about the synagogues, schools, and other structures that once comprised Mizrahi Jewish life. Diarna operates from the American Sephardi Federation in New York City.

Scroll will frequently feature a new Diarna historical site, serving up architectural glimpses into a Jewish world that is fast decaying, if not being destroyed outright. This week, we begin with the Eliyahu Hanabi Synagogue, also known as the Jobar Synagogue, in Jobar, Syria, a suburb of Damascus. Some say the synagogue’s Jewish roots date back to the Talmud.

According to Diarna, the synagogue is said to mark the location where Elijah anointed his disciple Elisha, although historical data suggests that multiple structures have existed there since antiquity. 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, as well as a second synagogue, supposedly rebuilt in the first century by the Rabbi Eleazar ben Arach and destroyed in the 16th century.
The Jobar Synagogue was badly damaged in 2013 and destroyed in 2014. Additional background here and links.