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The Jews from Aley ( Lebanon) by Nagi Georges ZEIDAN


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The Jews from Aley ( Lebanon) by Nagi Georges ZEIDAN
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The Jews from Aley ( Lebanon) by Nagi Georges ZEIDAN

In 1870 Mr, Massoud, son of Abraham (born in Deir EL Kamar) DAHAN (died in Beirut in 1938) was born in Aley. This proves that the family coming from Deir El Kamar arrived in Aley after 1860.

After the opening of the railway line BEIRUT- DAMASCUS in August 1895, the Jews from BEIRUT began spending their summer holidays in the Lebanese mountains in ALEY. They settled there next to their brothers of religion, refugees from DEIR EL KAMAR et BAROUK in the region of CHOUF because of the events between Christians and Druzes in 1860. The benefactor Ezra, son of Jacob ANZARUT , that is JACOB’s family, built a synagogue for the Jewish community in 1895 which he named (OHEL YA'AKOB), and he used his father's first name. ( Many synagogues all over the world carry the name "ohel" signifying "tent" followed by the benefactor's first name or the person he wante to honor.

In summer 1902 Mr. Elie, son of Selim GRECO ( Mother Ester) was born in Aley. This proves that the family resided in Aley during the summer.

On September 17th, 1912 the newspaper "Lissan Al Hal" published the following information:

In the town of Aley a delinquent beat up the servant of the benefactor Ezra ANZARUT so Ezra's son, called Léon, went to his father and told him about what had happened. They decided to register a complaint against the delinquent.

On July 27th, 1922 the Jewish Lebanese newspaper called "Al Alam al Israeli" (the Israelite world) published the following information:

At that time the synagogue of Aley was painted with oil-paint and electricity was installed in the synagogue for the first time.( it is evident that the benefactor Ezra did all this) An information was added that there were only 10 Jewish families living in Aley.

And a question was asked in the same newspaper: How come that a town with only 10 Jewish families can own a very beautiful synagogue, well organised while Beirut with 1000 Jewish families living there only owned a very small, neglected synagogue.

In January 1932, there were 51 Jews residing in Aley (23 men and 28 women)

On August 6th, 1932 Mr Edmond son of Yaacoub SAFRA (died in Monaco on Dec. 3rd, 1999) was boorn in Aley.This proves that the great banker Mr. Youssef, son of Elyahou SAFRA (born in Alep in 1890) resided in Aley during the summer.

On July 24th, 1944 Mr. Cecil, son of Haim DANA was born in Aley. This proves that the family resided in Aley.

On July 9th, 1951 Ms. Bettina, daughter of Albert, son of Ezra son of Jacob SAFRA was born in Aley. This proves that the family resided in Aley.

On August 21st, 1951. Mr. Ezra, son of Jacob SAFRA died in Aley. (burried in Beirut)

On July 11th 1960 a daughter of the PRECIADO family was born, this proves that the family resided in Aley.

In March 1976, because of the civil war in Lebanon, many Jewish families, finding themselves in danger in Beirut, searched refuge in their summer homes in Aley, Bhamdoun etc in order to feel secure.

Unfortunately the bombing started in Aley, shells and rockets were fired from east to west in the mountain regions. One of those shells hit a building belonging to Druzes next to the synagogue where a Jewish Lebanese family lived who were the first victims of the war with several people injured and one casualty.

In Aley rockets and shells continued dropping like rain and the synagogue OHEL YA’AKOB was also hit.

N.B: During the civil war 1975/76 several Jews died in Aley, and as the cemetery in Beirut was closed because it was on the demarcation line, they were buried at the Christian and Druze cemetery in Aley.

On June 26th, 1982 the Israeli army entered Aley and observed that the synagogue was touched at the roof only, the rest was not hit at all.

N.B an Israeli soldier of Lebanese origin met some Druzes from Aley and asked them:

“My dear friends, I am Albert son of the plummer Zaki LAZKANI, I was a little child when I left Aley, did you know me then?”

All the people embraced him, recognizing him.

N.B: I was told the story by people from Aley in 2005.

On Sept.5th, 1983 the Israeli army left definitely Aley. The war broke out in the neighbourhood of the synagogue between the two enemies, the Lebanese forces and the Socialists. Unfortunately they destroyed the synagogue.

Names of the Jewish families having lived in Aley:

1- ADISSI (from Deir El Kamar)
2- ANTEBI (Alep)
3- BENSABAT (Morocco)
4- BERHOUN (no idea about their origin)
5- BOUKAI ( Damascus and Saïda and Algeria)
6- COHEN (it is difficult to know which Cohen )
7- DAHAN ( Deir El Kamar and Morocco)
8- EL YAMANI (Yemen)
9- ESCABA (Beirut and Greece)
10- KHABIEH (branch of the ZEITOUNI family from Deir El Kamar)
11- LAZKANY (from the town LATAKIA in Syria)
12- SA'AYD (no idea about their origin)
13- SIHAKA (no idea about their origin)
14- ZALT (a branch of the DAHAN family from Deir El Kamar)
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