The Franji synagogue, Damascus
If on the most solemn day of the Jewish year you find it hard to get a seat in synagogue or end up cramped and overheated in the overflow, you could always try Yom Kippur in Damascus. There's plenty of room at the Franji, Syria's only remaining working synagogue. (With thanks: Janet)
Joey, a young American-Israeli, shot this film of the concluding Ne'ila service. It's typical of services in many Sephardi synagogues, with much out-of-key audience participation, but there is no rabbi. One is struck by how many of the men, led by the community leader Albert Kamao who looks after the elderly and needy, in fact look quite young.
Ten Jewish men make up the minyan, while among the five Jewish women is Rachel, a diplomat working at the US consulate. Rachel told the story of her stay in Damascus to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.
Mindful that they live in a police state, Joey tries to be circumspect in the questions he asks of the Jews he meets. The 50 or 60 still remaining out of a community of 40,000 seem to do well in business and have the protection of the Assad regime. They seem quite happy; but Joey could not help noticing one old lady wipe away a tear.