Libyan exile says he was driven from synagogue site


(JTA) — A Libyan Jewish exile attempting to restore Tripoli’s main synagogue said he was forced to leave the site.

David Gerbi, who arrived in Libya from Italy this summer when Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi was ousted in a rebellion, was warned Monday to leave the Dar al-Bishi synagogue site by area residents who said that men with guns were coming to kill him, Reuters reported. He had discovered the site to be locked.

A local military official told Reuters that Gerbi was being protected and that he left the site of his own free will.

Gerbi the previous day had started the work of surveying the damage to the Dar al-Bishi synagogue, The Associated Press reported. He had spent weeks getting permission from the country’s new leaders.

Gerbi, a representative of the World Organization of Libyan Jews, told Reuters that he is applying to become a member of Libya’s National Transitional Council as a full member to represent the Jewish community. He also plans to reclaim Jewish properties confiscated by the state.

Most Tripoli synagogues have been destroyed or converted to mosques. Jewish cemeteries also have been torn down to make room for office buildings.

Gerbi fled Libya with his family in 1967 when he was 12 years old.

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