Syria’s historical sites are becoming harder and harder to protect, and the latest victim is the Jobar Synagogue, a building at least 2,000 years old, and according to some traditions even older. The synagogue, which has not been in use as such for a long time, was in the territory captured by Islamist rebels, and has been looted by robbers.
The synagogue was considered an important historical site for Syria, emphasizing its history of religious pluralism. Converted to a schoolhouse for Palestinian refugees for a time after the foundation of Israel, the synagogue was one of several tapped as an historic site for restoration by overseas Syrian Jews and the Assad government, and was also considered an important site for Jewish pilgrims, though Israeli-Syria relations have made this extremely difficult to maintain.
The Syrian Culture Ministry, which is responsible for such historic sites, says that a number of books and artifacts were carried off in the looting, though since they cannot access the site, deep in rebel territory, they can’t say for sure exactly what has been lost. The ministry says it is just the latest in a number of important sites that have been hit by looters in the chaos.
Rebels had initially drawn attention to damage to the synagogue’s exterior by government shelling. Videos showing that the looting took place show some rubble on the outside of the building, but exactly how damaged it is remains unclear.
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