There are only 22 Jews left in Syria – all are elderly without family abroad and living in a building adjoining the (only working) synagogue in Damascus. There are no Jews in Aleppo or Kamishli.
So said Judy Feld Carr in the Question and Answer session following a screening of an hour-long Israeli TV documentary about her at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival recently.
Judy Feld Carr is known as the ‘saviour’ of the last 3,000 Jews of Syria, who were held as effective hostages between the 1970s and 1990s. She helped secure the release of several difficult cases, including the Swed brothers, who were jailed and tortured for two years. Jews were ransomed with money collected by Mrs Judy, as she was known, in Canada. Her story is told in Harold Troper’s The Ransomed of God. In its heyday the community, which went back to Biblical times, numbered 30,000. The community is now dispersed between Israel, the US, Canada and Latin America (Mexico and Brazil).
In this clip Mrs Judy says that her work ended on the morning of September 11, 2001, when she arranged for a family with seven children to be flown out of Syria. The father had been deliberately run over in Damascus and all the bones on one side of his body broken. Mrs Judy had to book three seats on the Air Pakistan flight for him alone. On his arrival in the US it was discovered that his bones had been re-set wrongly in a Syrian hospital.