Rabbi Avaraham Hamra by the Forward

Rabbi Avraham Hamra, last chief rabbi of Syria, dies at 78

Rabbi Avraham Hamra, a major leader in the Syrian Jewish community and the last chief rabbi of the country, died Friday in Israel at the age of 78.

Hamra had spent most of his life in Syria where he was a one of the few remaining spiritual leaders for the remaining Jewish population following the mass exodus of Syrian Jewry in 1947.

Rabbi Hamra oversaw kashrut, marriage and education of the Jewish community in the Middle Eatsern country, and protected his community by forming a friendly relationship with the Syrian government.

He served as chief rabbi in Damascus until 1994, when then Syrian President Hafez al-Assad allowed the last Syrian Jews to leave.

Hamra, along with more than a thousand other Syrian Jews, ultimately relocated to Israel. Hamra had also worked with Mossad to smuggle Jewish artifacts – such as ancient Torah scrolls and manuscripts – out of the country, according to Haaretz.

In his later years, he was also involved in supporting other Jewish communities in the Arab and Muslim world.

“Rabbi Hamra was the last chief rabbi of Syria, and as such intimately knew the needs of Jews in Muslim countries,” Istanbul-based Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, Director of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States told the Forward. “Although his health was deteriorating due to his illness, he was always there to answer questions and give advice.”


David Ian Klein

David Ian Klein

David Ian Klein covers breaking news and international Jewish communities for the Forward. You can reach him at Klein@forward.com and on Twitter @davidianklein .

Rabbi Avraham Hamra, Syria’s last rabbi, dies at 78

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Rabbi Avraham Hamra, last chief rabbi of Syria, dies at 78

Thank you!

This article has been sent!