The rehabilitation of downtown Beirut’s Magen Avraham synagogue will begin this summer, according to sources in the Jewish community. Once the largest synagogue in the Middle East, the Lebanese Civil War and the Israeli invasion of 1982 left the synagogue in ruins, a state it’s remained in for more than 20 years; but, funds have now been raised for its reconstruction.
The architect in charge of the Magen Avraham synagogue’s renovation confirmed to Executive that reconstruction is imminent. With work expected to begin in August, the site will be cleared of the trees and weeds that have grown in the partially destroyed structure.
The architect, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that the money for reconstruction has been raised by expatriate Lebanese Jews and private donations and will cost a total of $2 million to complete.
“The synagogue will eventually be restored to exactly how it was,” the architect said. “I will be reconstructing the synagogue using old techniques, hand-cutting the stone and so on. Currently all the ceiling, woodwork and iron work needs to be replaced. The original façade will remain but we will have to check if we need to re-do the structure.”
The Magen Avraham Synagogue Facebook group also posted an announcement that reconstruction of the synagogue would occur. This announcement was accompanied by a chorus of “Mazel tovs” and “Mabrouks” (congratulations). However, not all on the group were celebratory. David Avraham Daoud, a member of Facebook’s Israel network, wrote that the reconstruction issue is still delicate.
“I just hope it doesn’t become a death trap for the Jewish community in Lebanon,” he wrote.
Others were more positive about the synagogue’s re-development. “Let’s enjoy the integration and multi-ethnicities in our beautiful Middle East,” wrote Zainab Khalil, while Lebanese Boudi Saleh was “excited to hear that it will be renovated.” The plans for the synagogue include a museum documenting the history of the Lebanese Jewish community.