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Passing of leader of Lebanon’s tiny Jewish community comes at heavy moment

The country is now home to 29 Jews, as thousands fled during the civil war in the past century amid rising anti-Jewish sentiment.
Entrance to the Magen Abraham synagogue in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Aug. 11, 2009.

The death this week of the former head of the Lebanese Jewish Community Council has shed light on the country’s dwindling Jewish community at a time of heightened tensions with neighboring Israel.

Isaac Arazi, 80, died on Tuesday and was buried on the same day in Beirut's Jewish cemetery, lawyer Bassem el-Hout told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Wednesday.

According to his obituary, Arazi pushed for the renovation project of the Magen Abraham synagogue located in the Jewish district of Wadi Abu Jamil in downtown Beirut. The synagogue, which was built in 1925, was looted and heavily damaged during Lebanon’s civil war (1975-1990).

The Jewish Community Council that Arazi headed funded the renovations launched in 2009 through $200,000 worth of private donations. Lebanese construction firm Solidere donated another $150,000, according to a 2009 Haaretz report.

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