President of Syria’s Dwindling Jewish Community Passes Away at 80; Only 4 Jews Left in Damascus - The Jewish Voice
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Saturday, December 2, 2023

President of Syria’s Dwindling Jewish Community Passes Away at 80; Only 4 Jews Left in Damascus

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Albert Kamoo, the president of the Syrian Jewish community and one of the five last Jews in Damascus passed away this week, according to an update by a rabbinic organization that helped him and his tiny community, as was reported by the Jerusalem Post earlier this week.

Kamoo was 80 years old at the time of his demise, according to sources familiar with the dwindling Jewish community in Damascus.  The JPost reported that Kamoo had left no descendants as he never married. He does leave a sister who also lives in Damascus.

Kamoo was appointed president of the Syrian Jewish community in 2006 and his responsibilities included maintenance of the synagogues that were essentially empty when left behind by the once thriving community as well as looking after the Jewish cemetery in the city, the JPost reported.

The JPost also reported that he also served as the liaison to the few international organizations that were in touch with this disappearing Jewish community.

An Arabic segment of the BBC News once featured Kamoo and his sister. The segment showed them in Damascus’ Eliyahu Synagogue and Kamoo was donning a yarmulke. Also shown in the segment, as was reported by the JPost were ancient Jewish artifacts.

Now that Kamoo is deceased, the Jewish community in Damascus stands at 4 people. According to the JPost report, those remaining are two men and two women. One of the women is Kamoo’s sister, Rashel, an elderly woman and two men in their 60s, the report indicated.

“We mourn the passing of the head of the small Jewish community of Damascus, Syria Mr. Albert Kamoo,” the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States tweeted on Wednesday, as was reported by the JPost. Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, Chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in the Islamic States and one of Turkey’s rabbis said that he is “saddened by the passing of a Jew who held the remains of this community including the prophet Eliyahu Synagogue and the other synagogues.”

The JPost reported that he added that “the Jewish community in Turkey was in recent years the connection to Damascus until the civil war in Syria. From time to time a Shochet (A ritual slaughterer who skillfully practices shehitah) would come from Turkey to Syria in order to slaughter Kosher animals, but nowadays the numbers of Jews have dwindled and there is a civil war so there isn’t any need or way to do so.”

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