A lawyer for Lebanon’s Jewish community denied recent media reports that Beirut’s Maghen Abraham Synagogue is set to reopen, saying no date has been set.
The synagogue, located in the former Jewish Wadi Abu Jamil district in downtown Beirut, was damaged during the country’s civil war that took place from 1975 to 1990.
The synagogue has undergone construction, yet according to lawyer Bassem al-Hout is not going to open its door to religious services.
“The construction is basically done,” Hout told the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star, adding that the building “doesn’t have any benches or furniture” and that there are no rabbis in Lebanon who could lead the services.
Hout, who handles legal aspects of Jewish marriages, divorces, deaths and births, asserted that the renovations have cost between four to five million dollars.
According to him, there are around 400 Jews remaining in Lebanon, most of them living in or around Beirut, and who plan to transfer historical Jewish documents into the remodeled building.
Responding to media claims that the synagogue is about to reopen, Hout said that “these are just rumors made up in the press.”
According to the report, Hout, a Muslim, took the position as the mukhtar to the country’s Jews after his father had held the same position.
“I don’t know a single family that moved to Israel,” said Hout, commenting on Jews that fled the country’s civil war.
“They [the Lebanese] don’t understand... that the problem is Israel, not Judaism… Muslims and Jews, we’re cousins,” he added.