JERUSALEM (Jun. 24)
The Allied forces entering Damascus found a once wealthy Jewish community of 15,000 reduced to 5,000 it was reported today.
Most of the Jews are small traders and peddlers in the surrounding Arab villages. The community is headed by the recently-nominated ELias Mizrachi and the local Beth Din, composed of two “chachamim” (sages). The community has a few schools and Talmud Torahs, with about 1,000 pupils, administered by the Alliance Israelite.
The Jewish community was represented in the Syrian Parliament by Joseph Laniado until recently when Parliament was dissolved by the Vichy authorities. There was also a Jewish municipal councillor. The community’s decline started at the beginning of the century when thousands emigrated to the United States, Lebanon and Palestine.
The most quoted Talmudic authority today is Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, who said: “Happy be he who will see the downfall of Tadmur.” Tadmur is now Palmyra whose airdrome has been occupied by the Allied forces. Tadmur, which is believed to have been built by King Solomon as a palm garden city, is repeatedly mentioned in the Bible. In ancient times it was an important trade and military road junction. Now it has one of Syria’s largest airdromes. The town has only one resident Jewish family.
Meanwhile, the Palestine Government’s economic adviser, Geoffrey Walsh, has been appointed military brigadier commissioner to Syria to assist in the economic situation in Syria and coordinate trade between Syria and Palestine.
The new American consul-general, Pinkerton, has arrived here.