Episode: 7

The Rescue of the Jews of Syria


Episode 7: THE RESCUE OF THE JEWS OF SYRIA (1970-1994) tells the story of the harsh and restrictive life of the Jews who were still trapped in Syria, the international human rights response to their plight, and how the Sephardic community in Brooklyn came together to help free them. It includes the story of the proxy brides, a handful of young women permitted to leave Syria in 1977, and how the Council for the Rescue of Syrian Jews, a community organization in Brooklyn, fought triumphantly to free the remaining Syrian Jews, who were finally allowed to leave in 1992. And we learn how Sephardic Bikur Holim, a charitable organization in Brooklyn, galvanized the community to support and welcome the new arrivals. 



(Antiquity – 1900)

Episode 1: THE BEGINNING tells the story of the Jews of Syria from Biblical times, how Sephardic Jews, expelled from Spain, joined Syria’s ancient Jewish community, and the rise of Jewish merchants during the Ottoman period. It describes Jewish religious practice under Muslim rule, and introduces sacred treasures, such as the Aleppo Codex, the Great Synagogue of Aleppo and the Farhi Bible.  It also traces the roots of Syrian-Jewish cuisine, the musical tradition of Pizmonim, the Damascus Affair, and Shabetai Tzvi – the false Messiah. This episode ends in the early 20th century, with the first wave of emigration from Syria. 



Episode 3: LIFE IN BENSONHURST covers the move to Bensonhurst Brooklyn, and life on Bay Parkway. It includes the building of Magen David Synagogue, the first Syrian synagogue on American soil, and the Talmud Torah, led by the great Rabbi Matloub Abadi. We hear about the Ahi Ezer synagogue built by the Damascus community – and how the two communities, divided in Syria, became united as one in the United States. This episode includes the Great Depression, when, through their religion and tradition of charity, the community supported each other through the hardships of that time. The film ends with the Edict of 1935, preserving the community’s cohesiveness for generations to come.



Episode 6: THE JEWS OF SYRIA tells the dramatic story of how the Syrian Jewish community in Aleppo and Damascus (along with other Jews in Arab lands) experienced harsh treatment and violence, and were forbidden to travel or emigrate following the partition of Palestine in 1947. Along the way, we learn about the Aleppo Codex, the Great Synagogue of Aleppo, the riots against the Jews, efforts to escape, and the re-settlement of some Syrian Jews.


  • Biblical Times
  • 950 BCE
  • 630s
  • 929
  • 1375
  • 1400s
  • 1492
  • 1527
  • 1565 c.
  • 1665
  • 1732
  • 1760 c.
  • 1840
  • 1869
  • 1892
  • 1909
  • 1911-1912
  • 1918
  • 1930s
  • 1935
  • 1944
  • 1945
  • 1946
  • 1947
  • 1948
  • 1949
  • 1950
  • 1951
  • 1956
  • 1956
  • 1957
  • 1958
  • 1964
  • 1965
  • 1967
  • 1972
  • 1974
  • 1975
  • 1975
  • 1980s
  • 1988
  • 1992
  • 1994