Syrian Jew in Lebanon

Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

According to community tradition, Jews have lived in Syria since ancient times, possibly as far back as the time of King David. More recently, additional communities of Jews immigrated to Syria from Spain in the late 15th century and from Italy and other European countries in 18th and 19th centuries.

The completion of the Suez Canal in Egypt in 1869 resulted in a shift in trade routes, leading many Syrian Jews to leave Aleppo and Damascus in Syria for Egypt, Lebanon and multiple western countries. Today, significant Syrian Jewish communities live in the United States, Britain, and multiple Latin American countries, including Mexico, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Jamaica.

Jews in Lebanon enjoyed relative tolerance during the rule of Christian Arabs in the country, with 7,000 living in Beirut in the mid-1950s. However, the majority left in 1967 and those that remained have suffered multiple rounds of violence and persecution. Most of the Jews remaining in Beirut left following the Muslim-Christian civil war in 1975-76.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Lebanon's constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and the free exercise of religious rights for all religious groups provided they do not disturb the public order. But the reality rarely lives up to the ideal, especially in southern Lebanon. Jews in the area live in constant fear of violence since the kidnapping of nine Jews in 1985 by Hezbollah, a terrorist organization based in southern Lebanon. The remaining Jews do not openly practice their religion for fear of persecution.

As of 2020, the Jewish Community Council estimated that the number of Jewish people is far smaller than it was 10-20 years ago. Most of the synagogues in Lebanon have fallen into disrepair or are being used for other purposes. Several have suffered heavy damage as a result of the civil war and of looting. Nearly all of the Jews remaining in Lebanon live in Beirut.

Real or perceived relationships with or support of Israel can result in arrest and imprisonment. In 2020, Kinda el-Khatib was arrested and accused of being an Israeli agent and of opposing Hezbollah. A Military Court sentenced her to three years in prison for "collaborating" with and traveling to Israel. Further, Lebanese law bans any audiovisual media promoting a relationship with Israel.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Rabbinical Judaism is the dominant religion of Jews in this region, though Jews in Lebanon practice their faith in private. Rabbinical Judaism replaced the temple with the synagogue, the priesthood with the rabbi, and the sacrificial ceremony with the prayer service. They emphasize studying the Torah (Hebrew name for the first five books of the Bible), the growing need for national restoration in the Promised Land, and the function of this world as preparation for the world to come.


What Are Their Needs?

The Syrian Jews in Lebanon need gospel resources. There are translations of Bible portions in North Levantine Arabic (the primary language of Syrian Jews), but not the entire Bible or even the whole New Testament. Some audio recordings and video resources are available, but not an audio Bible or the JESUS Film.

Throughout their history, the Jews have faced discrimination and persecution. They need to experience emotional healing and forgiveness. They need a spiritual hunger; most view their "Jewishness" as an ethnic identity rather than a dedication to the Lord.

Prayer Points

Ask God to open the minds and hearts of Syrian Jews to Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. May he soften their hearts toward those who come as his ambassadors.

Ask God to send loving believers from a Jewish background to work among the Syrian Jews of Lebanon.

Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to mission agencies that are focusing on the Middle Eastern Jews.

Ask God to establish strong, multiplying local churches among the Middle Eastern Jews, resulting in a movement spreading to Jews of all backgrounds in all countries.

Scripture Prayers for the Jew, Syrian in Lebanon.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Jew, Syrian
People Name in Country Jew, Syrian
Natural Name Syrian Jew
Pronunciation SEER-ee-un joo
Population this Country 400
Population all Countries 77,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Syrian Jew
People ID 15153
ROP3 Code 109665
Country Lebanon
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Widespread.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010
Country Lebanon
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Widespread..   Source:  Ethnologue 2010

No people group map currently available. Use the above button to submit a map.

Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Religion Subdivision: Judaism
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.09 %
Ethnic Religions
90.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
9.91 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Arabic, North Levantine Spoken (400 speakers)
Language Code apc   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Arabic, North Levantine Spoken (400 speakers)
Language Code apc   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Arabic, North Levantine Spoken
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2023  Etnopedia  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more