Jewish heritage sites in Iraq and Syria are ‘beyond repair’

A new study has listed over 300 Jewish heritage sites in Iraq and Syria. Its conclusions hardly come as surprise: most Jewish heritage sites are beyond repair or in a bad condition. Even if they could be restored, the instability of the regime does not guarantee that the sites will remain unaffected by neglect or vandalism. The Times of Israel reports: 

The location and condition of over 350 Jewish heritage sites in Iraq and Syria have been identified by a major new research project. But most of them are said to be ruined or nearly so, often because of neglect or redevelopment work.
The 18-month study conducted by the Jewish Cultural Heritage Initiative (JCHI) catalogues and assesses sites from antiquity to the present day in once-vibrant

a synagogue in Mosul, Iraq

centers of Jewish life in the Middle East.

But an accompanying report published this month warns that nearly 90 percent of the sites in Iraq – and more than half of those in Syria – are beyond repair or in a very bad condition.

It also identifies four Iraqi sites where it believes “emergency relief” could be critical to preserving them.

They include the last functioning synagogue in the country and a Baghdad cemetery where the remains of Jews who were publicly hanged in the 1960s on charges of spying for Israel are buried.

 The JCHI is a collaboration between the London-based Foundation for Jewish Heritage and the American Schools of Oriental Research. The study was led by Dr. Darren Ashby and Dr. Susan Penacho of the US institution’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives. The research team used desk-based, satellite and on-the-ground assessments.

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