There are 100 Jews left in Egypt, according to the North American Jewish Data Bank’s 2010 findings. Since the revolution, and the election of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi, the small number of remaining Jews faces an uncertain future. But of course, Jews have a rich past here. The Ben Ezra synagogue in Cairo, pictured above, is said to be where Baby Moses was found.
Tunisia is home to approximately 1000 Jews, according to the North American Jewish Data Bank’s 2010 findings. The oldest and the biggest synagogue is the El-Ghariba, or the Djerba Synagogue. Every year, thousands of Jewish pilgrims flock to this temple for an annual celebration, but this year, there were only about 500 in attendance. Like other Arab Spring countries, the numbers have plummeted since the revolution in January 2011. Still, Tunisia has one of the largest Jewish populations in the Maghreb.
While Morocco has always had the largest Jewish community in the Arab world, only 2700 Jews still live there. Most live in Casablanca, but there are smaller communities in Rabat, Marrakech, Meknes, Tangiers, Fez and Tetouan, where the man pictured above prayed during the Hailoula ceremony in honor of Saint Rabbi Itshak Benoualid. Like the rest of the region, there is a rich Jewish heritage in Morocco dating back two millennia.
There are hardly any Jews left in Lebanon. There were several dozen in the country in 2010, when Beirut’s oldest synagogue, Maghen Abraham, pictured above, was restored, with the cooperation of different faiths and political groups.
Iran has the largest Jewish community in the Middle East (not including Israel and Turkey) Nearly 10,500 Jews still live in Iran, according to North American Jewish Data Bank’s 2010 findings, despite being subjected to harassment since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Above, an Iranian Jew prays at the Yousefabad Synagogue in Tehran.
There are an estimated 17,600 Jews in Turkey. The most famous synagogue, Nevi Shalom, pictured above, is in Istanbul and is still used for weddings, funerals and other ceremonies. Turkey is also home to the Ahrida Synagogue, an ancient synagogue that dates back to the early 15th century.
As of a 2010 report, there were about 100 Jews left in Syria. Shortly before the current crisis, President Bashar Assad supported the restoration of 10 synagogues, including Al-Raqi in Damascus, an ancient synagogue. This wall fresco at a Jewish synagogue lives in Syria’s national museum and shows the hand of God reaching out. Separately, the Syrian Jewish population in Brooklyn, was “75,000 strong and growing fast” in 2007, according to the New York Times.
There were about 200 Jews left in Yemen in 2010, according to the North American Jewish Data Bank. But according to media reports, like many of the Arab Spring countries, the numbers dwindled after the fall of President Abdullah Ali Saleh. The chief rabbi in Yemen, Yahya Yosef Mosa, pictured above, still lives in Sanaa, even though the community has been under pressure since the fall of Saleh, who supported them.
Jews around the world will celebrate Rosh Hashana starting Sunday by eating traditional meals that symbolize the sweetness of the new year. From Egypt to Iran, Nervana Mahmoud takes stock of the Middle East's Jewish population.