Rebels claim ‘ancient synagogue destroyed’ in Libya

With thanks: Avril

Selection of photos http://www.flickr.com/photos/yefren/4305766944/ here. Note the Hebrew inscriptions on the ceiling of the Yefren synagogue.

A 2,000-year old synagogue in the Libyan town of Yefren is said to have been destroyed in the fighting now raging between President Gaddafi’s forces and Nato-supported rebels.

Update on 14 April: a ‘trusted source’ says that the synagogue has not been destroyed, only a few houses in the old town.

This BBC report yesterday quotes a rebel fighter named Aydress. Aydress claims that Colonel Gaddafi’s forces used rockets, missiles and anti-tank weapons to bombard the town of Yefren. They destroyed a mosque and a ‘Jewish place of worship’, 2,000 years old, he says.

Yefren is a Berber town in the West of Libya famous for its troglodyte caves.

According to the Lonely Planet guide to Libya, the synagogue served the Jewish community up to 1948. (Many of the town’s Jews went to Moshav Usha near Haifa). The ramshackle interior contains six arches and six windows (the number represents the six points of the Star of David) surrounding a raised platform. The ceilings are adorned with Hebrew inscriptions and Hamza hands.

This video takes you on a guided tour of Jewish Yefren. You can see the cemetery, the metal door with its ‘menorah’ leading to the synagogue, and the inscriptions inside. (With thanks: Anonymous commenter)

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