Syrian Army forces completely destroyed the Eliyahu Hanabi Synagogue in Damascus’s Jobar neighborhood over the weekend, according to a report on Tuesday.
The synagogue was once a Jewish pilgrimage site.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the destruction of Jobar Synagogue,” the report in The Daily Beast quoted Shlomo Bolts – an official at the Syrian American Council, an American charity connected to the Syrian opposition – as saying. “[It] was a treasure of Jewish and Syrian cultural heritage.”
He added that many other historic Syrian houses of prayer had been destroyed in the fighting, including the Umm al-Zinar Church in Homs, which locals say dated back to the first centuries of Christianity.
Many of the synagogue’s treasures, such as historic Torah scrolls, texts and ancient Judaica were moved to a safe place, though other items stayed in the synagogue until the end.
The Daily Beast said the synagogue was believed to have been built atop the cave where the prophet Elijah hid from his persecutors. Local Arab leaders took over the synagogue building in the 19th century, and after Israel’s establishment in 1948, the building was used as a school for Palestinian refugees.