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The Jews of Deir El Kamar by Nagi Georges ZEIDAN


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The Jews of Deir El Kamar by Nagi Georges ZEIDAN
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The Jews of Deir El Kamar by Nagi Georges ZEIDAN -

In 1710 some Jews of North African origin and some with Andalusian roots settled in Deir El-Kamar because the village was a centre of commerce. Among those Jewish people were the families SROUR, ZEITOUNI and LEVY. However, some members of the latter family continued on to Jerusalem where they settled. Other families preferred to stay in Deir El-Kamar.

Those Jews’ professions included iron melting and fabrics colouring, especially silk coloring. Around 1750 they built their place of worship in the village.

In 1788 the Emir BACHIR AL- CHIHABI took power at Mount Lebanon and in1789 he started building the Palace of Beiteddine (still existing). The construction took 30 years and was finished in 1822. Only few Jews from Deir El-Kamar participated in the construction of the palace.

On April 22nd, 1799 Napoleon summoned the Jews to join his army in order to reconquer Jerusalem and rally the Kingdom of Israel where he had planned to settle down.

On April 23rd, 1804 Ahmad BACHA AL-JAZZAR (the butcher) died and at that date there were 80 Jewish families living in Deir EL-Kamar.

The Jews of Deir El- Kamar and Hasbayya helped Emir Bachir Al-Chihab’s armed forces subdue the people’s revolt against Abdallah Bacha. In the same year many Jewish members of the SROUR family left Deir EL-Kamar to settle down in Saida.

During Emir Bachir Al- Chihabi’s reign, the Jews of Deir El- Kamar offered his cavalry 100 horses equipped with saddles.
The chief of the cavalry was not familiar with the Jewish community. Important Jewish personalities of Deir El-Kamar offered to pay the wages of the cavaliers, their uniforms included. Therefore the group of cavaliers was called: “The half Jewish fighting unity”

At that epoch 1/8th of the population in Deir El-Kamar was of Jewish origin. They helped to actively increase the collection of taxes and about 30 Jews were in charge of this collection.

In 1822, and in order to secure water supply at the Palace of Beit Eddine, Emir Bachir resorted to imposing 80 000 days of work on the population of the mountain. The aim was to bring water from Nabeh El Safa to Beit Eddine. Every man on the Mountain was to offer 2 days of unpaid work per year to achieve the project and some Jews from Deir EL-Kamar participated in this. To achieve the project, the forced labour took two years and was finished in July 1814.

The wealthy Jews of Deir El_Kamar asked the poor Jews of the town to supply their share of the work and offered them a salary in return.

In 1825 the family of Mordekai SROUR left Deir El-Kamar and settled down in BAK’IN, a village in Palestine.

September 14th 1829, Greece obtained its independence from the Ottoman State and certain Jews of different Greek regions began to leave the country. Some of them chose to live in Deir El-Kamar and Barouk and only one family (the SALEM family) settled in EIN KANI(Chouf). That was around 1836.

In June 1832 the armed forces of Ibrahim BACHA, Mohammad Ali’s son, entered Lebanon and the Egyptian governor asked the inhabitants of the Chouf to hand in their arms.

In that period, Jews and some Christians in Deir El-Kamar bought weapons and handed them over to the Egyptian governor to show their obedience to him.

In 1839 Hayim, Youssef MOGHRABI’s son (born in Deir El-Kamar in 1800) set up home with his family in Saida.

On September 13th, 1840 the Ottoman army, supported by the British forces, entered Lebanon and drove the Egyptian army out of the country.

On October 12th, 1841 an armed fight broke out between the inhabitants of Deir El-Kamar and Baakline in the Chouf. SomeJews from Deir El-Kamar left their town and settled either in Beirut (The families SROUR and CHOUA) or in Saida (the families ZEITOUNI and MIZRAHI as well as one woman Named Sultaneh LEVY)

On April 8th, 1843 Francis Naser MISK sold his house in Beirut to the influent Jewish person Moussa CHOUA, known as le Dirani (from Deir El-Kamar)

On November 25th,1844 Mikhail Gerges TRABLOUSI sold his house to Isaac, a Jew from Deir El-Kamar and son of Youssef SROUR who died in Beirut in 1879.

On June 10th, 1845 a census showed that there were 58 Jewish families living in Deir El-Kamar.

In 1848 a Christian boy in Deir El-Kamar, called Youssef, son of Assaad ABOU CHAKER, disappeared and was found dead in a forest. The Christians accused the Jews of the boy’s his death and the Christian-Jewish relationships as well as the common life in Deir El-Kamar suffered from the consequences.

The authorities arrested 9 important Jewish persons from Deir El-Kamar and the hatred between Christians and Jews was transferred to Beirut. The Jews in Beirut were saved from the Christian vengeance in Beirut by TWO consuls, the German and the Austrian ones. Some Jews left Deir El-Kamar in order to live near their Jewish brothers of Beirut (The CHEHOWAH and ACHKAR families).

In 1850 about 500 Jewish people were living in Deir El-Kamar.

On June 5th, 1860 violent fights took place in Deir El-Kamar. The complete Jewish population from Deir El-Kamar and Barouk left their respective villages. Some of them set home in the town of Aley (The ZALT, DAHAN, KHABIEK families) where they built their synagogue with the help of the influent Jewish person EZRA, son of Yaakoub ANZAROUTH in 1895. They called the synagogue
Ohel Jacob.

Other Jews established their homes in Beirut (the SROUR, ZEITOUNI, SALEM, EIYAHOU families), in Saida ( The ZEITOUNI, SALEM, KHABIEH, SROUR, TELIO families) or in Tripoli ( the SROUR family)

O December 26th, 1863 23 Jewish people were living in Deir El-Kamar

On May 21st, 1900 the sale of the synagogue was carried out. Here is the text:

We, the undersigned of the emigrated Israelite community of Deir EL-Kamar have appointed Ishac Efendi Chaaban SROUR to sell the synagogue belonging to us to Mr. Daoud Raad CHAMOUN and Iskandar Mansour Al- KABAH from Deir El-Kamarthe. It is situated in Deir El-Kamar and delimited: in the south by the land belonging to His Excellency Selim Bey Ammoun, in the east by the buyers’ property and opposite the property adjacent of Rifalto Selim Efendi TABET which was liberated for the sale to His Excellency Selim Bey AMMOUN, in the north by the buyers’ property and in the east by a street belonging to the buyers including the convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph for the price of 60 (sixty) French Pounds. He was delegated to cash the sum and establish a contract with his signature authorising the sale in view of the fact that the synagogue had been destroyed and there had not been one single member of our community in Deir El-Kamar for 40 years. Therefore we sold the synagogue to a buyer residing in Beirut and strange to our place of residence and for that reason we have established this document certifying our signatures by Chief Rabbi of the Israelite community in Beirut and the real estate agents. We promised in relation to the buyers concerning this sale and its value, in case, that a person is claiming the total or a part of the sum, to pay to the buyers what shows as a loss, damages and interests and the amount demanded including the expenses asked for.
This document was established, in witness whereof, on May 21st 1900.

Draftsman of the document: Selim SROUR

Combined with the following signatures:

- Ishac Eliahou MOURAD
- Youssef SALEM
- Chamoun Chehadeh AL-Mawla
- Bekhor Youssef TOBEH
- Salamoun KHABIEH
- Ishac Baroukh TELIO
- Mourad ADDISSI
- Moussa Youssef ZALAT
- Ibrahim MATLOUB
- Moussa fils de Youssef TOBEH
- Chamoun, fils de Eliahou FNOUNOU
- Lello ACHKAR
- Nessim ZALAT
- Yacoub Nissim Chemouel BAROUKH
- Mourad Daoud Chemouel BAROUKH -
- Selim Eliahou Telio
- Selim SALEM
- Moussa Cham'ieh
- Chehadeh Addissi
- Selim Bekhor Khabieh
- Youssef Moussa AMRAM

Concerning the power of attorney given to Moukhtar Isaac Efendi Chaaban SROUR for the sale of the synagogue situated in Deir El-Kamar in accordance with the above signatures I have also authenticated requests with my above signature asking your honourable Court to confirm the sale of the Synagogue to the people detailed above.
Drafted in Beirut on May 21st, 1900

Signature Chief Rabbi:
My representative: Haim Youssef Mourad DANA
We have taken knowledge of the complete explanations and signatures of our community’s important persons living in Deir El-Kamar according to their membership established by Chief-Rabi Mr. Haim Efendi Mourad Youssef Mourad DANA.

In witness whereof, drafted in Beirut on May 21st, 1900. Signed by Moussa Aharon YEDID LAOUI
Here are the following seals:

- First seal : in Arabic: Eliahou Youssef MANN

- Second Seal: in Arabic
The first Jewish Moukhtar in Beirut

- Third Seal: written in three languages: Arabic, Hebrew and French

In Arabic written as follows: by Moussa Haroun Yedid LAOUI, representative of charity, rabbinate and the poor of Kods Al-Charif et Khalil Al-Rahman, Safed et Tiberiade in Beirut

- Fourth Seal: written in two languages Arabic and Hebrew
Registered as follows: representatives of the Israelite Community in Beirut

- Fifth Seal: in Arabic. Representative of the Chief Rabbi in
- Haim Mourad Youssef DANA

According to the census in 1913 there were 86 Jews living in Deir El-Kamar.

In 1919 there were 75 Jews living in Deir El-Kamar.

The census of 1913 shows that there were 7 Jewish people living in Deir El-Kamar.

After the Israeli Army had entered Lebanon on June 5th, 1982 one of the Israeli officers, named ALEX, celebrated his wedding ceremony in the synagogue of Deir El-Kamar on June 15th, 1982. An old Jewish lady, member of the SIDI family having resided in Deir El-Kamar for a long time participated in the wedding.

Here are the names of Jewish families who were living in Deir El-Kamar:

ACHKAR – ADDISSI – BAROUKH (possible the TELIO family being the origin) - CHAABAN ( the SROUR family being the origin ) –CHMEY’A –CHOUA –DAHAN – ELYAHOU- EZRA –FNOUNOU – HANAN – HASBANY -LEVY( a prt of the family took on the name COBERSSY which means albino in Arabic )- MAKHLOUF – MOGRABI – SROUR – TOTAH – ZALAT - ZEITOUNI(one of the branches being the KHABIEH family).

The following Jewish families having lived In Barouk and having left in 1860:


The SALEM family is the only Jewish family having lived in Ein Keni.
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