Historic Damascus synagogue destroyed

(JTA) — A historic synagogue on the outskirts of Damascus was destroyed amid fighting in Syria’s civil war.

Opposition leaders said Syrian army forces flattened the more than 400-year-old Eliyahu Hanabi Synagogue in an attack over the weekend — part of a months-long bombardment of the suburb of Jobar — and also may have destroyed thousands of Jewish artifacts,  The Daily Beast reported.

The synagogue had been damaged by a mortar shell in 2013. It stopped functioning as a Jewish house of worship more than a century ago.

Before Syria’s civil war, the synagogue reportedly housed thousands of religious and cultural treasures, including century-old Torah scrolls, historical texts, dishes and ancient Judaica. It was not clear how many of those were in the building when it was destroyed.

According to the Daily Beast, the synagogue was a destination for Jewish pilgrims and was said to have been built atop the cave where the Prophet Elijah hid from his persecutors. Local Arab leaders took over the synagogue building in the 19th century.

After Israel was established, the building was used as a school for Palestinian refugees.

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