A Libyan Jewish man who fled the nation with his parents decades ago has become a celebrity in recent days for his quest to restore Tripoli’s main synagogue. But shortly after 56-year-old David Gerbi took a sledgehammer to the wall blocking the entrance (photo), armed men threatened his life and forced him to abandon the project — for now.
Gerbi said he had obtained permission from members of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) and a local leader to start fixing up the Dar al-Bishi synagogue, which was shut down and sealed off under the Gadhafi regime following a wave of anti-Semitic persecution in the late 60s. Most of the other synagogues in Libya were destroyed or turned in to mosques as Jewish property was confiscated and Jews were expelled.
But Gerbi was hoping the rebellion would be a new start — that the exiled Jews could return to Libya if they chose to. He called the reconstruction effort a “test” of the new regime’s tolerance.
Click here to read the entire article.
Photo: David Gerbi as he knocks down a wall blocking the door to the main synagogue in Tripoli, Libya, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011: AP Images