On one of my recent trips to the Kurdish self-administered parts of Syria – better known as ‘Rojava’ – my local fixer told me something very interesting. According to him, there was a Jewish synagogue, a graveyard, and perhaps even a small community of Jews left in Qamishlo. After some research, we were quite certain that the Jewish community of this city was nothing but a rumour anymore. People in the city have heard of such a community, but they all said, that this was past by now. An article published on Jerusalem Post in 2006 was able to track down three individuals, and with quite certainty it can be said that it is likely only the youngest one may still be in Qamishlo.
In other news it was surprisingly easy to track down the site of the former synagogue of Qamishlo. The building is hidden away in the market area of the city, very central, and very close to our hotel. The building is guarded by a Syrian-Kurdish person called Kamiran Hassan and he is keen to show visitors with a purpose around. He is little shy about it, because he is not getting any support from the Jewish diaspora, yet he is keen to keep the run-down buildings a bit in shape. Over the past years, the condition of the furniture has worsened and he is currently emptying both the synagogue and the yeshiva to clean and repaint some metal elements. He has asked me not to take too many photos of the courtyard because he feels a bit ashamed that it looks a bit untidy and not exactly clean, as three turkeys are currently roaming around the vicinity of this place.
Apart from that, everything seems in a dusty, but okay condition, although the books and religious papers lying around should be kept in a more preservative way, but the guard is unable to do so, since he doesn’t have any money. He wasn’t exactly sure of the age of the building, and according to him, the synagogue doesn’t have a name, or he is unaware of it. He also showed me the container for the Torah of the synagogue, which was (unfortunately) empty. According to him, the Torah was evacuated already at the end of the 1940s by US-American Jews and is somewhere in the states now.