Community in Lebanon - World Jewish Congress

In 1948, there were 20,000 Jews living in Lebanon; in 2020, there were only 29 Jews still there.

WJC Affiliate


Jews have lived in Lebanon since ancient times. According to tradition, in the first century C.E., King Herod the Great had a temple constructed in the city of Tyre for his Jewish subjects living there and also supported the Jewish community in Beirut. The community grew, and by the sixth century, synagogues had been built in both Beirut and Tripoli. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, Jews mainly settled in villages in Lebanon, and most Jewish communities were interspersed with the Druze community.

During the first half of the 20th century, the community expanded tremendously due to immigration from Greece and Turkey, and later from Syria and Iraq. This continued immigration resulted from Lebanon's fairly tolerant attitude, as was evidenced when Lebanon granted residency permits and sometimes even Lebanese citizenship to Jews fleeing persecution in Syria. Nevertheless, there were incidents of rioting and incitement around the time of the establishment of the State of Israel. Only after the Six-Day War and the outbreak of the civil war of 1976 did Jews feel compelled to emigrate en masse.

In the past two decades, the political climate has radicalized, and the remaining Jews are left in a tenuous and vulnerable position.

Community Life

Nearly all of the remaining Jews are in Beirut. Because of the current political situation, Jews are unable to openly practice Judaism. In Beirut, there is a committee that represents the community.

Kosher Food

For up to date information on Kosher restaurants and locations please see the Shamash Kosher Database

Jewish Education

Prior to 1976, there had been two schools and two synagogues in Beirut, and a school in Sidon.

Relations with Israel

From 1976 to 1982, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) attacked from a position in South Lebanon that it had taken control of. Israel battled this terrorist stronghold in Lebanon in 1982 in an effort to destroy it. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the extremist Islamic movement Hezbollah frequently engage in skirmishes in South Lebanon. Israel continues to back the South Lebanese Army, which is primarily made up of local Christians.

Since 1948, 4,062 Lebanese Jews have emigrated to Israel.

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